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Forget amalgamations; enact the Student Support Bill - Doherty

19 October, 2010 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking in a debate in the Seanad on the amalgamation of VECs, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has said that the Minister for Education is playing around with VEC amalgamations while steadfastly refusing to implement the Student Support Bill. He said the Minister should forget about amalgamations and enact the Student Support Bill without delay.

Senator Doherty said:

“The amalgamation of VECs is going ahead without any knowledge of the actual proposed savings. I have called on the Minister to do a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal before proceeding with any amalgamation and I reiterate that call today.

“The talk of amalgamations comes at a time when students across the state are facing the prospect of having to drop out of college because they have yet to receive the first instalment of their grant. As of the 12th of October, 16 local authorities and 26 VECs still have not made a single payment in respect of student grants.

“We are now heading into November; Christmas is only around the corner. For students to go that long without receiving their grant for the second year in a row would be utterly disgraceful.

“Instead of taking action on this issue the Minister is using her time to play around with the notion of amalgamating VECs. This can only further hinder grant processing. The Minister should forget amalgamations and enact the Student Support Bill without delay.

“It is not acceptable that such a crisis should be allowed to happen again. For the second year in a row students are left waiting and wondering when, or if they will receive their grant, if they can afford to stay in college or if they will have to drop out.

“I am asking the Minister to focus on the real issue here. Forget the amalgamations, fix the grants system and focus on implementing the student support Bill.” ENDS

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