Friday 2 December 2016

Teachers could face loan fees of €120 a month

Published 25/11/2016 | 02:30

Peter Cassells Picture: Mark Condren
Peter Cassells Picture: Mark Condren

A recently qualified teacher on €37,000 a year would repay about €70-€120 a month under the type of student loan scheme suggested in the Cassells report on future funding for higher education.

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Dr Aedín Doris of Maynooth University told the Oireachtas education committee that the figures would vary depending on income.

Dr Doris did much of the work on the student loan aspect of the report on future funding of higher education, including drawing on the practice and experience in other countries.

Along with Peter Cassells, who chaired the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, Dr Doris addressed the committee as part of its consideration of its report ahead of making recommendations to Education Minister Richard Bruton.

Mr Cassells told the committee that the higher education funding system was "broken" and his report calls for an additional €600m a year for the sector by 2021. An income-contingent student loan scheme - where graduates would repay college fees retrospectively once their income hit a certain level - is a feature of one of three funding options put forward.

All options require more State investment, but the question is whether students and employers should also contribute more. Dr Doris said that while a student loan scheme may not encourage more people from a less well-off background to go to college, it would not deter them. She said that the issue of maintenance grants was much more important when it came to access to third-level for financially disadvantaged students.

Among the issues raised by TDs and senators was whether a loan scheme would encourage emigration in order to avoid repayment, leaving the State carrying the financial burden.

Dr Doris said there was very little evidence of the impact on loans of outward migration, but research in Australia did show factors that determined whether emigrants returned were mostly to do with family.

Irish Independent

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