The Social Democrats believe in an Ireland where high quality public services, strong communities and a thriving economy combine to create a society where everyone has a meaningful opportunity to reach their full potential. The Social Democrats want to build a country that is prosperous, fair, equal and creative.
The Social Democrats believe Higher and Further Education is predominantly a public good, and our ambition is to provide universal equality of opportunity to a world class, globally competitive third-level system. It’s clear that significant investment in Higher and Further Education is required to address the chronic underfunding of recent years, significant demographic demand, and to maintain, protect and enhance quality.
Our key proposals include:
- Reducing Third Level fees and progressively increasing funding to achieve EU average funding levels
- Investment in adult education, IT literacy and financial literacy
- Investing in access programmes and reforming maintenance grant schemes to ensure broad socio demographic representation across the third-level system
- Restoring maintenance grants for postgraduate students
- Improving the level of autonomy of colleges, together with accountability for results – a programme of modernisation that must be developed in partnership with the third level sector
- Creating new apprenticeships and advanced qualifications
- Introducing a new innovative National Apprenticeships programme in line with the European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships to help meet workforce needs and skill shortages. We want to see a particular focus on new apprenticeships in areas such as coding, IT security and AI, and to ensure there is adequate skills supply in areas such as care, youth work, childcare, financial services, creative and digital media, and other areas