Ógra Aontú have said that the Department of Education’s SUSI grant scheme is increasingly unfit for purpose, as inconsistencies in grant approval continue to mount up.
Secretary of Ógra Aontú, Dáire Tully, said: “We’re hearing horror stories from students across the country who are being denied the SUSI grant this year, seemingly without logic or reason. It appears blatantly obvious at this stage that SUSI are behaving in a harsher manner now than ever before. They seem to have chosen the year of a global pandemic as the perfect time to become more conservative, cold, mean and harsh in the processing of grant applications”
Dáire continued: “There is such an alarming lack of consistency in SUSI’s decision making that some students are beginning to speculate that SUSI are merely picking names from a hat at this stage. One student who got in touch with us said that her two siblings had qualified for the grant but she had been refused.
This is despite the fact that all three had filled out the forms together with the exact same details. The ordinary variables like parental income, distance from the university, number of siblings in education, were exactly the same for all three siblings, yet two were deemed to qualify for the grant and one was refused. This makes no sense whatsoever”.
“The system is seeming more and more unfit for purpose and is displaying huge inequalities. If a student’s income, or a parent’s income increases by even the slightest amount it could disqualify a student from the entirety of their grant. If a family’s income increases by ten euro per week SUSI often see that as an appropriate ground upon which to deprive the student of any grant at all and the student is left then with no option but to drop out of third level education”.
“Particularly cruel is the rigmarole students who are estranged from their parents are subjected to by SUSI. Colder still is SUSI’s request to students whose parents or guardians are dead to furnish them with details of last years’ parental or family income. Some students don’t have families and don’t have parents. There have been cases where such students are placed on hold for hours on end, by SUSI, and then when the matter is raised politically weeks or months later, SUSI turn around and deny that any such phone call took place. Simon Harris has yet to get back to us on any of the concerns we have been raising over the past number of months.
We are calling on the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, and SUSI, to stop punishing financially struggling young people for seeking to stay in education. We are at the mercy of an economic tsunami and if anything the system should really be exercising leniency and compassion at this very difficult time rather than excess scrutiny and rolls upon rolls of red tape”, concluded Dáire.