23/12/2021 | 07:17 AM
The Government is considering a cut in the €3,000 registration fee for third level colleges and universities.
Official figures show it would cost over €80 million to cut the fee by €1,000 for students.
The Irish Times reports Ministers are also examining reforms to the Susi (Student Universal Support Ireland) scheme as part of a €350 to €400 million package.
Government sources have ruled out a student loan scheme to provide this additional funding and are in favour of increased State contributions.
The reforms would include a major expansion of student grants which would result in more families being entitled to free fees and maintenance grants.
Following the UK’s exit from the EU, Ireland now has the highest third level charges in Europe.
The Government is struggling to compete with Sinn Féin to attract younger voters so the move to cut student contributions is attractive.
Sinn Féin has previously pledged that in Government it would cut the student contribution by at least €500 each year, with the eventual aim of abolishing charges altogether.
Official figures show it would cost the Government about €40 million to cut the student contribution charge by €500, and just over €80 million to cut it by €1,000.
Meanwhile, the cost of abolishing the charge altogether would amount to €245 million.
Sources told The Irish Times that a combination of rising living costs and continuing rent hikes has put the plight of students more prominently on the political agenda.
Research by TU Dublin indicates that the cost of living for students living away from home has jumped from just under €12,000 to almost €14,000 in the space of a year.