Education Minister must Review Student Grant Changes to Avoid Drop Outs – USI

Education Minister must Review Student Grant Changes to Avoid Drop Outs – USI

 

Grant criteria changes result in loss of €3,810 to most disadvantaged students, 

Students on Aran islands expected to commute to college.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is warning the Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairí Quinn, that unless changes to student grants are reversed, thousands of students will be forced to abandon their college courses.

In the Budget 2011, the previous Government made critical changes to the qualification criteria for the Non-Adjacent Student Grant:

  • The distance that a student must live from college to qualify for non-adjacent rate of grant was almost doubled, from 24km to 45km.

 

  • Mature students will no longer be automatically entitled to non-adjacent grant rate.

 

While the changes were announced in Budget 2011 by the Fianna Fáil – Green collation it will be up to the new Government to decide whether to implement the changes in criteria. These changes will be implemented from September and will affect both new and continuing students.

It is estimated that the change will affect 25,000 students nationwide – 7,000 of which will be mature students. (Figures provided by the Department of Education & Skills).

On average, these changes represent a loss of over €1,700 per student but the grant cuts will be particularly savage for students, who are currently in receipt of the top rate of maintenance, and the additional special rate. These students will see their grant reduced from €6,355 to €2,545. This represents a decrease of €3,810.

USI is now urging Minister Quinn to reverse these grant cuts in order to prevent thousands of third level students being forced into abandoning their studies.

USI President, Gary Redmond, said:

“While I welcome the Ministers recent announcement of the centralised grant agency which will ensure students receive their payments on time – these non-adjacent grant rate cuts will make Higher Education an impossible aspiration for thousands of students around Ireland.

The students that are currently in receipt of this grant have already been recognised as the most disadvantaged in society. Without this vital financial assistance, there is no doubt that they will have no other option but to drop out of third level education.

These changes now suggest that students living within a 45km radius of their place of study should travel to and from college every day. This is a particularly farcical suggestion for rural parts of Ireland where this is simply not possible with the lack of public transport. The new criteria also mean that students from the Aran Islands studying in NUI Galway must commute on a daily basis.

Education is the silver budget to disadvantage and USI is urging Minister Quinn to save the most disadvantaged in society from the dole queues and emigration.”

Ends.

For further information, please contact:

 

Gary Redmond, USI President:                            087 9606 130

Gillian Tsoi, USI Communications Officer:         01 7099 300

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