Deputy Michael Lowry T.D. has spoken out in opposition of proposed cuts to the Higher Education Grants Scheme for postgraduate students.
Further to media reports that have emerged over the weekend it has been suggested that the Government are considering scrapping the grant for postgraduate students as it currently exists. It will not be replaced by any alternative scheme. The Independent T.D. for North Tipperary and South Offaly has stated that any such cuts would be hugely illogical and unfair to the countless students who are seeking to further their education and increase their employability.
Deputy Lowry explained this as follows;
“Many students upon completing a degree have found it simply impossible to gain any meaningful employment. They therefore make the difficult decision to return to college and undertake a challenging postgraduate course either to increase their employment prospects in their original course of study or to branch out and diversify in the hopes of then securing employment in a different field. Similarly many people who have been made redundant return to education to upskill. It is absolutely unconscionable to cut all the supports available to such people when they are seeking to further their prospects and the prospects of their families. The grant in its current form allows those who are undertaking a postgraduate to apply for grant aid which is then assessed on their income for the previous year. There are various levels of grant aid available dependent on the level of income. This grant can be worth in excess of €6,000 in certain instances. If the media reports are indeed true we will move from this level of support to a situation where the government will provide absolutely no support for postgraduate students.”
“This is particularly galling for students given the fact that our current Education Minister, Minister Quinn had signed a pledge prior to the election which stated that if he was elected he would not cut the student grant or increase fees. This promise was a corner stone of his, and of Fine Gael and Labour’s election campaign. Too many election promises have been broken. The time has come for Minister Quinn to stand by his pre-election promise to all students.”
“It is my belief, and it has been stated time and time again, that in order to move forward from our current economic difficulties we need a highly educated, skilled and diverse work force.
“We need a knowledge based economy to develop and grow as a nation. Despite this the current government are planning on making access to education increasingly more difficult.
“If the supports for postgraduate courses are cut we will find ourselves in a situation whereby postgraduate courses are only available to those who are well off.”
“I am joining with the USI in standing against any cuts to the student grant scheme.
“I have sought clarification from Minister Quinn on this issue and I look forward to his response.