SUSI failure forcing students to drop out of college – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has said the significant difficulties in the processing of third level grant applications by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) was reaching crisis point.
The Cork North Central Deputy, who recently obtained statistics from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) which showed 52,430 student applications were still awaiting processing through the online SUSI system, has been contacted by a number of students who because they are still awaiting payment of their grant may be forced to drop out of college
“The SUSI online application system” he continued, “has been an unmitigated disaster with tens of thousands of students left in dire straits as they await payment of their third level grant.
“In one of a number of cases I have dealt with, a first year student from Cork City, who is attending a nursing degree course in Dundalk Institute of Technology, has still not received her grant despite applying through SUSI in mid-June
“The young woman in question comes from a one parent family and has four other siblings and despite the best efforts of her mother she is struggling to pay her rent and is behind on her bills.
“This is someone who wants to train to be a nurse and make a positive contribution to society who is being forced to drop out of college because a grant to which she is fully entitled to has not been paid. Since commencing her studies in September, she has been placed under immense stress as a result of the worry that comes from having little or no money.
“Sinn Féin welcomed the SUSI system whenever it was first launched in June, but we also made clear that it would have to be properly resourced in order to provide an adequate service. The backlog of thousands of unprocessed applications, the apparent lack of training for staff and the difficulties in getting answers when contacting SUSI are much more than initial teething problems.
“It is now time Education Minister Ruairí Quinn intervened directly to ensure this integrated on-line system, which was supposed to make the process of applying for a grant a good deal easier, can make the outstanding payments immediately.
“The failure of SUSI has already had serious consequences for students and their families unacceptable that its serious flaws are forcing people out of college at a time when higher education is so important for our long-term prosperity.”