"Huge levels of confusion surrounding SUSI grant" - Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called for complete reform of the SUSI grant system. Deputy Tóibín said:
"Following a written question this week, the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris revealed to me that since the formation of the new Department, he has received "in excess of 300 emails" in relation to students who were experiencing issues with the SUSI grant applications. The Minister also confirmed that there are almost 5,000 applications which are still currently being assessed. This delay is not good enough"
Deputy Tóibín continued: "My office has been seeking to help students who are experiencing issues with their SUSI grants and the process seems very flawed. In some cases we've had students who have been refused a grant while their siblings have been deemed to qualify - these siblings live the same distance from the University, have the same parental income and yet one gets the grant and the other is refused. In other cases students whose applications were successful are now being contacted by SUSI who are threatening to take it back".
"I would also question the tone used by SUSI when contacting students, the high volume of red tape can be very daunting for first year students in particular. Any system which leaves the user reporting a 'cold experience' of engagement is not welcome. Even as an elected representative I find the system excessively complicated to deal with, long hours on hold on the phone only to be passed from Billy to Jack for a finish, etc. It is incredible that over 300 students felt that the only way to get answers is to contact the Minister directly. We need a complete reform of the grant system to transform it into something which is orientated around the wellbeing of students rather than the cold, complicated and outdated system that it currently is", concluded Tóibín.