Postgraduate maintenance grants to return for the next academic year

By Aoibhin Bryant

The Department of Education has confirmed the restoration of the SUSI maintenance grant for postgraduate students, commencing in the academic year of 2017/2018.

Last week the Department of Education announced that the maintenance grant for postgraduate students will be reintroduced after it was cut under the previous coalition’s austerity measures back in 2011. This decision to cut the grant was condemned by the Union of Students in Ireland who warned it would force people in pursuit of higher education onto the dole.  

In August 2016 Fianna Fáil education spokesman, Thomas Byrne, stated that measures to increase financial support for postgraduate students were “absolutely essential”.

Cathy McLoughlin, the senior officer of Dublin City University’s Access programme, said that the government’s recent decision was “wonderful news”.

According to McLoughlin, by reintroducing the maintenance grant, the government has “opened up further education opportunities for everyone, especially people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

To be eligible for the maintenance grant, students must be an Irish, EU, EEA or Swiss National and must have been in residence of said nation for three of the last five year.

Furthermore, the maintenance grant will only be available to students who already meet the criteria for the special rate of grant awarded by SUSI. Students who only qualify under their ordinary rate of grant scheme may not necessarily be eligible for the renewal of the maintenance grant for post graduates.

The funding will only be made available to students at postgraduate level for a certain amount of years and will depend on the student’s previous education, according to SUSI’s website.  

It is expected to cost the government an estimated €50 million in order to restore the grant measures that were previously axed.

Both the Department of Education and SUSI were unavailable for comment at the time of writing this article.

Aoibhin Bryant

Image Credit: SUSI