Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, has confirmed that of more than 60,000 applications made to the new central student grant processing authority over the summer, decisions have been made on just over 12,000 applications while just over 3,000 grants have been awarded so far.
The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question posed by Sinn Féin TD, Peadar Toibín, with regard to serious delays in the processing of grants applied for through the new online system. Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) took over responsibility from local VECs and authorities for all new thirdlevel student grants in June. Applications are now made via www.studentfinance.ie.
According to Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien: “The new online system was supposed to make the process of applying for a grant a good deal easier but regrettably, there have been serious flaws which have resulted in delayed payments, poor communication and inadequate responses to pplications and documents submissions… As thousands of families struggle to make ends meet it is unacceptable that students are having their grants delayed”.
Dublin students have made the most applications for grants through SUSI, with a total of 13,114 applications. Of these, only 2,754 have been decided upon.
Students have expressed discontent on sites such as the www. boards.ie forum. Around 40% of Irish third-level students are in receipt of a maintenance grant. Students who received grants in previous years still renew these through their local authorities and VECs.