Doherty discusses grants crisis with USI
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty last night met with representatives of the Union of Students in Ireland to discuss issues affecting students. Among the most pertinent is the crisis of late grants payments.
Senator Doherty said that the government had learned nothing from the grants crisis last year, with 26 VECs and 16 local authorities yet to make a single grant payment this year.
Senator Doherty said:
“According to the USI’s figures as of 12th October there are 26 VECs and 16 Local Authorities yet to make a single payment to grant applicants. Donegal County Council and VEC are among those which have still to make a payment. This is totally unfair. The academic year is now in full swing and approaching mid-term assessments and exam time.
“Traditionally students would have worked during the summer and would have had some savings to get by; however that is no longer the case. With the economy in freefall and unemployment on the rise, first time grant applications have soared. Without the payment many students will simply be forced to drop out.
“I am reiterating my call on the Minister for Education to take action. There are three simple steps which she could take now in order to handle the crisis.
1. There should be an immediate review of the backlog that exists in councils and VECs and of their ability to handle the crisis.
2. Temporary staff should be deployed to process applications and make grant payments.
3. 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 immediate steps which the Minister should take in order to handle the current crisis; however the only way to avoid this disaster again next year is to implement the Student Support Bill which has been stopped in its tracks since 2008.” ENDS