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BUDGET 2011 EDUCATION CUTS

Proposed spending cuts of €400m on education are among the key sticking points between Fianna Fail and the Greens in agreeing the upcoming Budget, The Sunday Business Post reports.

Slashing education spending by this amount flies in the face of the revised agreement for government brokered between the coalition partners last year.

As pay and pensions are ring-fenced currently under the Croke Park Agreement, this leaves  capitation grants, staff numbers, special needs assistants and language support services in the firing line. Around 80% of the €8 billion education budget is protected under the Croke Park deal.

A pledge to maintain teacher-pupil ratios at current levels is unlikely to be honoured, one source told the newspaper.

The cabinet is discussing doubling third level registration fees from €1,500 to €3,000 and is expected to introduce a new post-Leaving Cert fee of up to €500. A return of college fees has not been ruled out. School transport charges could also be increased and €160m in cuts is being sought in school building next year.

The cabinet is expected to meet again tomorrow (Monday) to continue its pre-budget deliberations.

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