Budget 2024: Ministers Harris and Collins announce significant cost of education package with major investment in third level education and research

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Skills Niall Collins TD have today announced a package of measures, which will further reduce the cost of third level education this year and will put money back into people’s pockets.  

The once off cost-of-living measures benefiting students in the 23/24 academic year will include: 

  • A €1,000 reduction in the student contribution fee for higher education students eligible for the free fees initiative. When taken together with the new €500 student contribution grant the student contribution fee will be halved to €1,500 for eligible families with a household income of between €62,000 and €100,000; 


  • An increase to the Postgraduate Fee Contribution Grant from €4000 to €5000; 


  • A once-off reduction of 33 per cent in the contribution fee for apprentices in higher education; 
  • A further €8.1 million investment in the Student Assistance Fund for the 2023/24 academic year bringing the total to over €17 million;  
  • Renters’ tax credit is being extended to parents who pay for student children’s rent in the case of Rent a Room accommodation or “digs”. This change will also apply retrospectively for the years 2022 and 2023. 

Budget 2024 also provides for: 


  • The removal of Post Leaving Cert (PLC) fees from September 2024;  
  • An increase to all non-adjacent maintenance rates by €615 and adjacent maintenance rates by 10% from September 2024. Eligible PLC and undergraduate students will see a pro-rata increase effective from January 2024;  


  • The full restoration of student maintenance grants for post graduates from September 2024 for the first time since the financial crash. A pro-rata increase will also be effective from January 2024;  


From September 2024, student contribution fees will be abolished for all incomes under €55,924.  

For the first time ever, this will include students on specified undergraduate part-time/part-time online courses. 

In 2023 and into 2024, €192 million will be provided to higher education including €60 million in core funding to address student staff ratios, plus a further €35 million to address pay shortfalls. 

Budget 2024 will see a budget of €4.148 billion for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science including: 

  • Funding of € 4.1 million to increase the number of medicine places; 


  • Funding to support the National Tertiary Office in expanding the number of joint degree programmes outside the CAO; 
  • Funding of €67 million for continued growth of apprenticeship from 13,000 places in 2022 to over 16,000 places in 2024, helping boost skills development; 
  • The start of a new scheme to help employers with the cost of upskilling and reskilling staff; 
  • Funding to allow for Ireland’s application for CERN associate membership to proceed. 


Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This year we are building on the progress of last year’s cost of living measures and we are pursuing our ambition to reduce the cost of education as much as possible while also providing students with much needed relief by putting money back into their pockets.  

“Last year’s Student Contribution measures made a significant difference to students’ lives and their wellbeing. That’s why this year we are repeating these measures. We have halved the student contribution fee to €1,500 for eligible families with a household income of between €62,000 and €100,000 when the once off reduction in student contribution of €1,000 is combined with the new €500 student contribution grant.  Families who pay the student contribution in full will see a once off reduction of €1,000.  

“In recognition of the current cost of living struggles students face we are increasing student maintenance grants effective from January.  Students are set to benefit by up to €342 this year and up to €615 in the full 2024/2025 academic year. 

“This Department is going beyond what was set out in the Programme for Government as we have now reduced the contribution fee over several years.   

“In addition, and for the first time ever, fees for undergraduate part time studies will now be fully funded benefitting eligible one parent families, students with disabilities and carers on low incomes as part of a brand-new pilot programme.  

“This Budget also marks a significant step forward in our investment in and recognition of research. We are delivering funding to allow our membership of CERN to proceed.  

 “In line with the Funding our Future policy we are continuing to invest massively in Higher Education with an extra €60 million in additional funding. 

“This funding will lead to increased staffing levels and enhanced support services for students. It will also expand the capabilities of our higher education institutions to deliver on priority skills needs and the further development of tertiary programmes.”  

Minister of State Niall Collins said: “Since the inception of this Department we have recognised the vital role the apprentice plays in our society and in our communities and therefore I’m delighted to also announce a once-off reduction of 33% in the contribution fee for the 11,000 apprentices in higher education.  

“We know we face significant skills shortages especially in our construction sector. With today’s Budget I am further committed to investing in our apprentices nationwide who will be key to meeting the challenges of today and those that lie ahead. 

“With the funding we have secured in this Budget, we are investing in the apprenticeship system, increasing craft apprenticeship from 13,000 places in 2022 to over 16,000 places in 2024, shortening the length of time an apprentice waits for training, and increasing access to apprenticeship for under-represented groups. We want to make apprenticeships an attractive career path for young people.”