With thousands of students awaiting the first round of CAO offers, South Tipperary T.D. Tom Hayes has branded the current Student Grant Scheme as inconsistent and unfair. The criticism comes following a stream of complaints from members of the public who are unhappy with the measurement schemes being used by state bodies.
The Student Support Act 2011, passed in February of this year, increased the qualifying distance for the higher more substantial non-adjacent maintenance grant to 45km. However, the legislation did not call for a uniform system of measurement to be used in deciding whether or not an applicant’s home was within the 45km limit. All of this has resulted in hundreds of unhappy families around the country, dismayed at inaccurate measurements and little to no information on how their situation was assessed.
“My office has been inundated with calls and emails on this matter, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. What is clear to me is that we need to introduce clarity to this situation. All deciding bodies, whether they be VEC’s or local authorities, should have a standard and accurate system of measurement when determining an applicant’s suitability for the non-adjacent rate. It is our responsibility as lawmakers to legislate for that, something which the previous Government failed to do” stated Tom Hayes T.D.
The need for a singular method of measurement is obvious, given some of the cases Deputy Hayes has come across. “Obviously we are appealing a huge amount of these cases.Tom Hayes is seeking changes to be made to the current legislation that will allow for a fairer review system to be implemented, “All of this leads me to the conclusion that a single reliable system must be put in place to determine the distances for these adjacent and non-adjacent grants. I will be looking to raise this topic with the Minister when the Dáil resumes in September and I hope we can begin the process of amending the current legislation”
“I have also written to the South Tipperary VEC and County Council seeking to clarify what system they use to review college grant applications. I don’t see why a group like Ordnance Survey Ireland, who provide a fantastic service to the state, couldn’t be used as the official guide to college grant applications in the years to come.” concluded Tom Hayes T.D.