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Fees for science courses should be scrapped -- CEO

THE Government should abolish registration fees for science and engineering degrees to encourage students to enter these courses, a leading businessman has urged.

Sean O'Driscoll, chief executive of the home appliance maker Glen Dimplex, told the Oireachtas committee on Social Protection yesterday that the country needed graduates in science and engineering to drive growth and attract jobs.

He said there needed to be incentives for students to take these courses.

Mr O'Driscoll told the committee: "Germany this year will produce some 80,000 engineering graduates, but there are 1.1 million open positions there at the moment.

"Fees for engineering and science degrees should be abolished to get students into those courses," he said.

Mr O'Driscoll also implied that if full third-level fees were reintroduced, these courses should remain exempt. Such a move would inevitably mean higher fees for other courses or that the Government would have to pick up the tab.

However, Mr O'Driscoll said the measures would pay for themselves in the long term because of the benefits such graduates would bring.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the registration fee was currently paid by the Exchequer "in respect of students who qualify under the third-level grant schemes".


He added: "Around 41pc of students are in receipt of maintenance grants and do not pay the student contribution."

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Mr O'Driscoll said: "We seem to obsess about our children emigrating to Australia and the like. But I know if my children had to emigrate, I would much rather they went to Germany than to Perth."

He added: "There is a dearth of engineers and science graduates in Germany and elsewhere -- that is where the opportunities are."

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