CLLR EMER TÓIBÍN: “Withdrawal of SUSI grant from 77 Meath students during pandemic unacceptable”
Meath-based Aontú Councillor, Emer Tóibín has branded as ‘cruel’, the withdrawal of SUSI funding for 77 students from Meath during the Covid-19 pandemic. It comes as statistics released to Aontú by Minister Simon Harris reveal that 2,050 students in the State have had their funding withdrawn this academic year, 77 of whom are natives of Co. Meath. Cllr Tóibín raised the matter at this week’s meeting of Meath County Council.
Cllr Tóibín said: “Every year our offices make a number of representations to SUSI on behalf of students experiencing issues with grant application and renewal. In the past year it has become very evident to me that the number of students in Meath encountering issues with the system is on the increase. In his response to our question, the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, has outlined the reasons for the withdrawal of funding from 77 Meath students who were initially awarded a SUSI grant for this academic year. Many of the reasons are pathetic – students who repeat a year in college are considered, by the system, as ‘not progressing in education’ and are therefore denied a grant, or worse still, initially awarded funding and then suddenly facing the withdrawal of that funding in the middle of their term”.
Cllr Tóibín continued: “2,050 students in the State have had their funding withdrawn from them. In the cases of 237 of these students SUSI is now pursuing the student seeking repayment from them. I am aware of a student in that category, in his case he informed the college that he was deferring his year of studies, but the college failed to inform SUSI of this development. For this student, not alone has this year’s grant been withdrawn from him, but SUSI are also asking him to pay back thousands of euro from the previous year. This student was not studying last year, and never saw the money, because it went directly from SUSI to the college, and yet now he is expected to pay that back to SUSI, whereas it is the college that is at fault”.
“In many cases SUSI incorrectly deemed applicants as qualifying for the grant, and then withdrew that funding upon review. This is most cruel – SUSI made the mistake, not the student, and yet it is the student who is being saddled with debt. As we face into a recession, it is vital that we protect students, saddling them with debt because of incompetence on the part of SUSI, is cruel. If this situation is not rectified immediately, we are going to see students queuing up at airports in droves like we saw during the last recession. The government need to ensure that students are supported to stay in the country. It definitely seems as though there are more students being fought by the system this year than in previous years – I call on SUSI to reconsider their conservative and harsh approach for the duration of this pandemic and for Minister Harris to provide a progress-update on the government’s SUSI reform plans”, concluded Cllr Tóibín.
Meanwhile, there are a further 29 students in Co Westmeath who’ve had their funding withdrawn by SUSI this academic year.
Cllr Emer Tóibín 087 677 86 82