605 students have had their SUSI grant taken away from them after qualifying for the funding this year
Minister Harris has this week confirmed to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD that in this academic year, 605 students who were initially awarded a SUSI grant subsequently had the grant withdrawn from them.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“Data released to us last month shows that the number of grants awarded by SUSI has been reducing year on year. We know that 76,419 grants were awarded as of last month, an all time low over the past few years. There can be no doubt in my mind that the number of students facing issues with their SUSI grants and contacting my office has increased on previous years. Students have struggled during this pandemic with the closure of colleges and the lack of certainty. Many students didn't know whether to terminate their lease agreements or continue with them in the hope that colleges would reopen. Students who would normally take Summer jobs to help fund their education could not do so this year due to lockdown".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "It seems clear to me, from my engagement with students, that SUSI have behaved this year in a manner which is more conservative and strict than previous years. It is my view that SUSI is no longer fit for purpose. Students have reported to me that their engagements with SUSI have been tiresome, that they had to take time out of college to try to cut through the red tape and obstacles thrown in their way. One student joked about how they hear the sound of the 'call on hold' music in their sleep having spent much of the week on the phone going around in circles. At a time of global pandemic, at a time of recession, unemployment and economic hardship, when students are separated from their friends, SUSI should have adopted a policy of leniency. Instead they seem to have taken a cold, harsh stance on the issuing of these grants, even going so far as to recall grants from 605 students. It is truly unacceptable, students deserve better than this".