Minister Burton addresses grant delay problems

Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton told DCU students the grant application system should be open earlier to avoid delays in grant payments to students.

The Minister addressed a branch meeting of Labour DCU last Thursday, where she spoke of the current problems with the new centralised student grant system, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

Minister Burton hinted administration practices may be an issue in relation to the SUSI grant procession problems, saying she was surprised at how old fashioned the IT systems are in government departments when she became a Minister last year. She said despite the current problems with SUSI, the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, who oversaw the project to centralise the grant system remains confident it will work in future.

However the Minister said the grant application system should be open to students who have filled out their CAO forms earlier in the year to avoid delays in processing grant applications. She said students should get confirmation on whether they will receive a grant which should be subject to whether or not they get their place in college.

Commenting on reports that students were being denied access to facilities in college while they awaited grant approval, the Minister said in her experience, college staff and lecturers bent over backwards to help students and she added: “I hope that’s still the case”.

Minister Burton also commented on Ruairi Quinn’s broken promise to students before the 2011 general election, saying he hasn’t been able to keep the promise and there is a need for a contribution as the country has to be financed. However Burton stated that Minister Quinn is committed to capping the registration fee at €3,000.

Minister Burton described next week’s budget as “hard and difficult” and said there is a need to cut expenditure and raise tax, however she could not give details of what is to come in it.

Speaking about JobBridge, the national internship scheme, she said 12,000 have gone through the programme, with 6,000 completing it. Of those, around half have found employment through that internship. There are 5,000 people on the scheme at present.

She said we need more opportunities for people in this country, such as JobBridge and “that’s something I want to see happening in this budget”.

Aoife Mullen
Image Credit: Labour Party

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