Chance for new education minister to right the wrongs of third level cuts – Doherty
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has said that Mary Coughlan’s recent appointment to the office of Minister for Education and Skills is a chance for her to right the wrongs of third level education cuts – most notably that of the cut to the Back to Education Allowance.
“Previously mature students in receipt of the back to Education Allowance also qualified to receive the Student Maintenance Grant. However Budget 2010 took away that entitlement leaving many mature students in a hopeless situation whereby they could not continue with their studies.
“Many mature students have families to support and to suggest that they can survive on the Back to Education Allowance alone is an insult.
“This cut makes no economic sense. We are told that we want more people to upskill and retrain; at the same time these people are denied the support which would allow them to do so. This cut can only serve to deter mature students from seeking to go back to full time education.
“Such a cut is a direct attack on the least well off; however, Mary Coughlan has a chance to overturn it. She is new to the job and this is the perfect chance for her to make the changes that need to be made to get the economy, the third level education system and opportunities for employment back on track.
“I am calling on Minister Coughlan to make this issue a priority for her work in the year ahead. She can right this wrong and make third level education accessible for all, regardless of social background."