By Gráinne Ní Aodha, Pennsylvania
Higher and Further Education Minister Simon Harris said ahead of the budget a ‘Cost of Education Options’ paper will be released which will show options for increasing or decreasing investment in higher education .
“The minister at the time will have to explain ‘here’s why I chose this, here’s why I didn’t choose that,'” he said.
Mr Harris was speaking at the launch of a policy paper which aims to better link third level courses with post-Leaving Cert courses and better fund the higher education sector.
He said if they get the additional investment they seek in the 2023 budget, they will need to complete a series of actions that come with that funding.
Mr Harris said two of the actions that could be taken quickly are including internships in the Central Application Office (CAO) forms and increasing the number of post-Leaving Cert nursing courses.
He said that in many cases, if students are not getting the CAO points they need from their Leaving Cert to take their preferred college course, there is usually a post-Leaving Cert (PLC) course that they can follow to help them reach the third – level.
‘It’s not as true as I would like it to be when it comes to nursing,’ he told reporters in Dublin on Wednesday.
“There are not enough places, in my opinion, reserved in higher education for people from the higher education path, and I think that is an area where we can make progress. really tangible.”
When asked what targets had been set for university places reserved for PLC graduates, Mr Harris replied that there were none.
“I’m not naive to think we’re just going to replace the points system and certainly not in the short term. But I believe passionately that we can create alternative paths to run alongside that.
He said “the challenge we have in this country in terms of upskilling and reskilling is huge.”
“Education will no longer be something people do for a binary period of their lives. It will be something people need to dive in and out of.
“The way I see it is that we have 307 million euros to invest in the system, we have to see the rate at which we can invest, it is a question of estimation. There are three budgets left in life of this government. I think we can make a lot of progress, almost closing the gap in these three years.
In return for investment installments, milestones would be agreed through the Financing Our Future Implementation Group, chaired by Mr Harris, Professor Anne Looney and Professor Tom Collins, and which held its inaugural meeting today. today.
From September, Mr Harris said the €250 government levy to take a post-Leaving Cert course would be abolished.