You would want Jesuitical powers of decision to decide who is and who is not eligible for the non-adjacent student grant, North Tipperary VEC members were told at their November meeting.
The members were told that the cut-off point for the E5,000 grant was 45kms, and that the legistaltion stated that it was to be decided on using the shortest and most direct route to college. However, CEO David Leahy said that using this method, the shortest route from Nenagh to LIT in Limerick was through the city at 42kms, but the most direct route was along the M7, which was 49kms.
“We are checking it with the Department of Education, but it would seem that the best option is that if you are the Nenagh side of Tullaheady you are eligible for the grant, and if you are on the Limerick side, you are not,” he said.
It means that a student opting for Thurles would not qualify for the same grant as someone going to Limerick.“We adopt a generous interpretation for students. We are always on the student’s side,” he said.
Cllr John Kenehan asked for greater flexibility as he believed how a student got to their chosen college was at their own discretion.
Cllr Conor Delaney stated that students now faced a predicament and that many would choose a course they didn’t necessarily want to study in order to get a grant. However Mr Leahy replied that that problem always existed.
“My advice to students is to follow the course and not the money in this case,” he said.
The CEO revealed that he had come across a St Vincent de Paul fund that could be used towards education, and, he believed, it was under-utilised.
North Tipperary VEC Committee chairman Willie Kennedy cautioned about grant aiding students by having too flexible an approach.
“You have to mindful of the fact that nobody wants to pay out a grant that may have to be recouped,” he said.