FIANNA Fail deputy Willie O’Dea has warned that hundreds of Limerick students are facing into Christmas unsure of having received their grants.
Questioning the Government’s commitment to processing all student grants by December, Deputy O’Dea said four out of every ten applications are being returned as ‘incomplete’.
The former minister referrred to a letter issued by the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to Oireachtas members, in which he says that 40% of the unprocessed applications are likely to be returned as incomplete.
The Limerick TD said the result of this will be that Limerick students will be forced to resubmit their applications and will be waiting several more weeks after Christmas to receive their grants. Mr O’Dea said that the “Minister’s response to this crisis has been appalling from the start.
“In June this year Minister Quinn set up the new central online system for administering student grants (SUSI) in order to centralise the system and address issues such as delays and incomplete applications,” said Deputy O’Dea. “He promised students that the process would be quick, easy and fool proof. Yet three months into the academic year hundreds of Limerick third level students are still awaiting a decision on their student grants.
We heard nothing from him for weeks as tens of thousands of students became increasingly anxious about their grant applications.
“The chronic delays have severely hampered their college experience to the point that some have been forced to drop out, while others are unable to register properly and are blocked from accessing essential student services,” he added.
It is thought that over 6,000 students will face this problem.
A special meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee is to be held next week to question officials at SUSI about the problems in processing the grants.