Student Support Payment Methods Need to Be Changed - Flanagan
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has called for changes to be made to the way in which further and higher education students receive financial support.
Mr Flanagan was speaking after the leadership of National Union of Students/Union of Students in Ireland (NUS-USI) briefed the Assembly Employment & Learning Committee on the financial challenges facing students.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:
"The current financial situation facing students is gravely concerning, with incomes falling and the cost of living continuing to rise.
"It is a long standing pattern for many students to avail of part-time employment to help them survive financially.
"However, with the high level of unemployment having a negative impact on prospects for students seeking work it is now harder than ever for students to make ends meet.
"This means that most students are now more reliant than ever on the income they receive through student loans and other support funds.
"However, these payments are made three times a year making it difficult for students to manage their budgets. I believe that if these sources of income for students were instead paid on a weekly or monthly basis it would be more manageable and relieve some of the pressures on students.
"Many students are being forced to rely on food banks or short term loans at excessive interest rates to see them through until the next student loan instalment.
"I am calling on the Employment & Learning Minister Stephen Farry to review the methods of student financial support so that students can access them in a more manageable way. I will be raising this issue with him at the earliest opportunity."