Nenagh Councillor Seamie Morris has claimed that the significant difficulties in the processing of third level grant applications by Student Universal Support Ireland (S USI) is reaching crises point.
“The latest figures from the Department of Education and Skills shows that 54,430 (thousands of whom are from Tipperary) student applications were still awaiting processing through the online SUSI system. I have been contacted by a number of people who are not only awaiting payment but notification of whether their grant application has been successful”.
“This, added to the fact that Colleges and Universities are demanding payment this week and are threatening late payment fees of 10%, is causing unbelievable distress to the students many of whom are awaiting these grants to pay for other bills that have been put on the long finger. I have no doubt that you will see students having to leave their courses in the next few weeks due to stress caused by this”.
“This online system was the baby of the coalition FG/Labour government but it has proven to be a disaster with a lack of trained staff unable to even let people know where they were are in the system. Along with the doubling of college fees by this Government the promise of reforms in education have proven to be yet another false election promise at a time when access to education was never more important”.
“In years gone by students had the satisfaction of knowing that they could call into a local VEC or County Council office to see if their application was successful and local VEC boards were given monthly updates on payments and processing details. This is now out of their hands. I am calling on Minister Ruiri Quinn to intervene to speed up the process and also for him to call on colleges to refrain from pressurising students who are awaiting payments into payments of fees and late payment fees. Indeed they should put a system in place to take monthly payments from students until this is resolved, he said.