Minister’s refusal to assure third level grants payment before Christmas “very worrying” – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
The refusal of education minister, Ruairí Quinn TD, to guarantee that all students attending college in the new academic year will have received the first payment of their third level grants by Christmas has been described as “very worrying” by Cork North Central TD, Jonathan O’Brien.
Deputy O’Brien, who is Sinn Féin education’s spokesperson, was responding to comments made by the Minister in an interview today with RTE’s Morning Ireland programme.
He continued: “Minister Quinn has stated that the online system for processing third level grants, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) will function better in the months ahead but on the day thousands of students begin their Leaving and Junior Cert exams the minister was non-committal that the first instalment of third level grants will be paid before Christmas.
“This is very worrying, particularly after serious flaws in how SUSI functioned in the past 12 months resulted in its failure to process thousands of grant applications. The resulting hardship this caused students meant many struggled to pay for the basic essentials and some were forced to drop out of college.
“A repeat of that debacle, for which Minister Quinn, was forced to apologise, cannot be repeated.
“The recent independent review into SUSI that has put forward a number of recommendations must be fully implemented. To achieve this, the Department of Education and Skills must ensure adequate resources are in place so that SUSI can process third level grant applications on time.
“There can be no repeat of what happened last year and it is incumbent on the minister to ensure the serious flaws which affected SUSI are rectified so that students can concentrate on their studies at college without worrying when or if they will receive payment of their grants.”