O’Keeffe pledges to ‘family-proof’ third-level fees impact

AN expert report on the possible reintroduction of third-level fees should be before cabinet by September.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe told the Joint Oireachtas Education Committee work was continuing on cutting costs and boosting revenue across the third-level sector. He said this would include raising funds through philanthropy and in other countries there was direct student contribution. “There are strong equity arguments that those who benefit from higher education and who can afford to contribute to the costs of their higher education should be asked to do so,” he said.

A technical report on the various options is being prepared and the minister said some points had needed to be redrawn in light of the recent supplementary budget.

The issue of fees has raised worries for students and parents but the minister said: “As far as possible I am going to try and family-proof the implications of these measures.”

Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes questioned whether the delay in bringing the report before cabinet was due to the upcoming elections, a charge denied by the minister.

Regarding registration fees, Mr O’Keeffe said: “€1,500 is quite a serious charge, I accept that, [as for] the cut-off point, I wish it were higher... but given the financial circumstances we are in it is impossible to do that at the present time.”

He stressed any re-introduction of fees, or any decision regarding student contributions, would be made at cabinet level.

Independent TD Joe Behan said he welcomed the minister’s “rowing back” on the issue of fees, but said he should now “row back all the way”.

Responding to a question from Labour’s Ruairi Quinn, Mr O’Keeffe said “I certainly at this stage would not envisage the money [raised through fees or contributions] going back into the Department of Finance.”

Students entering third level this autumn are unlikely to be impacted by any decision on fees, but from 2010 the impact would be felt.


Lifestyle

A S the Joker would say, ‘Why so Series X?’ But the next generation of the Xbox isn’t a joke for Microsoft, who have ground to make up on Sony in the console wars. The Redmond team disappointed this generation, making early mistakes that gave Sony all the momentum.GameTech: Get ready for the new Xbox

Cork actor Eanna Hardwicke may have grown up with a Young Offenders star, but he is set to make a name for himself with a string of big roles, writes  Esther McCarthyEanna Hardwicke: Cork actor about to burst onto the big screen

Should we be putting haemorrhoid cream around our eyes? Short answer... Absolutely not.The Skin Nerd: Are celebrity skincare tips all a load of Bullocks?

Peter Dowdall reports on how Blarney Castle's famous yew has bewitched onlookers for six centuriesBewitched: Help Ireland's most popular tree get the vote in Europe

More From The Irish Examiner