Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has said the SUSI online processing of student grants is clearly failing after receiving a response to a parliamentary question from the Education Minister today which confirms that 52,430 grant applications are still being processed.
Deputy O’Brien received a county by county break down of the status of grant applications which also showed of the more than 65,000 applications received by the new system decisions have been made on just over 12,000 and just over 3,000 have been awarded.
“The new SUSI on-line system was supposed to make the process of applying for a grant a good deal easier but regrettably, there have been serious flaws which have resulted in delayed payments, poor communication and inadequate responses to applications and document submissions.
“The minister’s response today confirms that there are 52,430 applications still being processed by the system despite the fact that we are nearly in November. Of the more than 65,000 applications received by the new system decisions have been made on just over 12,000 and just over 3,000 have been awarded.
“The fact that 1,739 applications have been fully submitted by have not yet even been downloaded for assessment shows that there are major flaws with this system.
“The consequences for students and their families cannot be overstated and my office in Cork has dealt with people who have been left in dire straits by the failings of the new online system.
““I know of at least two students whose place at college has been jeopardised as a result of delays in their payments.
“The Minister must introduce a clear tracking system that would enable students to know what stage applications are at. A better designed more user friendly website would also help and resources need to be found to improve the briefing and training of Helpdesk staff who are doing their best under difficult circumstances.
“As thousands of families struggle to make ends meet, it is unacceptable that students are having their grants delayed because of flaws in a system that was supposed to improve the processing of third level applications.”