The SUSI grant was never intended to cover the full cost of college, the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Higher Education has said.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mary Mitchell O'Connor also ruled out a proposal by the incoming President of the National Parents Council Post Primary that the Government could act as co-guarantor for loans that parents have to take out to cover the cost of their children's third-level education.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor said she would love to take out a chequebook and write a blank cheque to cover higher education costs, but she cannot do that.

She said that in the context of Brexit, the Government "must be prudent", saying that "at the moment there has to be investment from the parents' side".

The Dún Laoghaire TD was also questioned about comments she made yesterday that students should use their grant to cover accommodation costs.

She said the comments were made in the context of being "very disappointed" about the decision by a number of universities to raise on-campus accommodation costs ahead of a cap on such increases coming into effect.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor said the legislation capping such increases was signed into law with a "very quick timeline" but said the horse has bolted.

She said the gap in the legislation has now been closed and there are stronger supports for students that are in tenancy or licence agreements.

Meanwhile, Ms Mitchell O'Connor said the Cassells report on funding for higher education has been sent to the European Commission for analysis.

She said she hoped to receive this analysis of the report, which was published in July 2016, before the end of the year.

An "informed decision" could then be made on funding proposals by the Cabinet, she said.

However, Ms Mitchell O'Connor ruled out the introduction of a student loan scheme, saying this was a red line issue.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has promised not to raise college fees for five years.

But earlier, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said he would be more interested in talking to the Minister for Education on what he is going to do rather than what he is not going to do.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Miriam O'Callaghan, he said he is keen to find out what the political parties will do for investment in education.

Mr Ó hÓgartaigh said it was time for a revolution at third-level and they are calling for a white paper on investments in education for the students.

He said there is clearly an interest in education, but there needs to be a discussion now on how to convert that into investment.

He said the Cassells report, an independent report commissioned by Government a number of years ago, called for an increase in investment in education.

He said the report identified three areas, but the focus that came out of it was only on one - fees - which puts the burden on students.

Mr Ó hÓgartaigh said the Cassells report remains unimplemented and calls for immediate action on increasing funding which is still needed.

He feels investment in third level education should be an election issue and the conversation around the impact and demand for education should be discussed in the context of an election.

He said if parents are interested in third level education for their children, for life in Ireland, then it should become an election issue to secure investment for Ireland's institutions.

Education has made a real difference to economic growth in Ireland, he said.

He is hopeful that the Minister and Minister for State can translate their desire for education into financial support in the budget when it comes to securing the €170m that was recommended in the Cassells report.