Grants crisis forcing students out of college – Doherty
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said there is a crisis situation is emerging once again for students as the Department of Education is failing to deal with grant applications.
Senator Doherty said the situation could force many students to drop out of college as they cannot afford the registration fee.
Senator Doherty said:
“Last year saw thousands of students in crisis situation while left waiting months for the first instalment of their grant. One year on and the indications are such that, far from learning the lessons of last year, the Department of Education and the Minister look set for yet another grants crisis.
“The vast majority of the 650 new grant applicants in Donegal have not been processed meaning they will not receive their grants by October and will not receive their letters of offer.
“By not receiving the letter of offer, students who are due back in college this and next week, are faced with a crisis situation. Registration has already started. Students who are not entitled to a grant have to pay a €1,500 fee for registration. Without the letter of offer showing that they are entitled to a grant, these applicants will be faced with two options: pay up or drop out.
“The very fact that students apply for a grant means that they are hard-pressed for money and cannot afford the exorbitant registration fee. I have already received phone calls from worried parents and students saying that they will be forced to drop out of college if they do not receive their grant on time.
“The Minister for Education needs to act fast so that this situation does not spiral out of control again.
“There should be an immediate review of the backlog that exists in councils and VECs and of their ability to handle the crisis. Temporary staff should be deployed to process applications. The Minister should issue a directive to all third level institutions ordering temporary registrations of all grant applicants in order to allow them to participate fully in their courses.
“These are simple steps which the Minister could and should take immediately in order to alleviate this crisis.” ENDS