FF calls on Bruton to clarify his view on third level loans

Cassells report finds current funding system for higher education not sustainable

Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills speaking with Peter Cassells, chairman of the Expert Group on Future funding for Higher Education at DIT. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills speaking with Peter Cassells, chairman of the Expert Group on Future funding for Higher Education at DIT. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil’s education spokesperson Thomas Byrne has called on Fine Gael to clarify its view on proposals for third level loans.

Richard Bruton has not set out their views, he has just said here’s Peter Cassell’s report. He needs to clarify their view,” the Meath TD told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

The Cassells report on Monday warned that the funding system for higher education is not sustainable and will lead to a sharp decline in the quality of graduates unless tackled soon.

The report proposes three main options for the Irish system: “free” education which is entirely funded by the State; maintaining the current €3,000 student charge, along with increased State funding; or a student loan scheme.

While he said each option had positive and negatives, Mr Cassells called on decision-makers to act swiftly in coming to a decision.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton declined to be drawn on which option he personally favoured on the basis that it would not be helpful in securing such all-party agreement.

“The proposals are challenging - none of the options set out here is easy. But the report challenges us to have a debate over how to fund the ambitions that we have,”Mr Bruton said.

Fianna Fáil’s Mr Byrne responded this morning by saying there were many questions that needed to be answered, such as where would the money for the loan system come from and what would the administration costs be.

“There is no doubt this train is coming at us and we must deal with that. If we don’t there will be high reputational damage to the Irish education system.

Fianna Fáil gets this. We are not in favour of putting more of a burden on families.

“We are open to a student loan system but it needs to be thoroughly and properly examined. How can it be accessed?”