President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), John Logue has criticised the Minister for Education over his handling of the SUSI grant delays.
In an interview with The College View, Logue said: “Minister Quinn has dramatically failed students. SUSI, the centralised grant-awarding agency, has received over 65,000 applications yet over 20,000 students are still waiting on assistance and Minister Quinn has admitted that many won’t receive their first payment until after Christmas. For some students, that will be too late.”
Like DCU SU, the USI have a mandate to campaign for a fully free third level education system. Logue told The College View: “USI is mandated to campaign for full exchequer funded third level education. This policy was re-affirmed through a nationwide online referendum in which students could vote for full fees, free fees, a student loan scheme, a graduate tax or maintaining the student contribution. Students chose to maintain USI’s free fees policy and we have mounted a highly visible pre-Budget campaign, ‘Fed Up? Stand Up’ on the back of that mandate.”
With Budget 2013 next week, there is speculation that Minister Quinn will increase the registration fee by €250.
Logue told The College View: “Students and families heard that Minister Quinn still intends to increase fees by a further €250 this year and every year until 2015, when they will be €3,000. By then, Quinn will have increased fees by €1,000. That’s the single biggest increase by any Minister for Education since fees were abolished in 1996; a breathtaking U-turn from a man who pledged to protect students and families from further hardship.”
However Logue is hopeful their campaign to protect the maintenance grant will be successful. “We have repeatedly called on the Minister to publicly state that he will not cut the maintenance grant again, yet he has refused to do so. However, our campaign has turned public opinion against him on this issue, so we are hopeful that the grant will be spared.”
St Vincent de Paul confirmed reports that students are already seeking aid. Regional vice president Brendan Dempsey said: “I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if it turns out that our spending is up another 30% this year. We now have students too, who are still waiting on grants, which is putting more pressure on their families.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Sinn Fein