"The SUSI grant system appears to have little regard for students mental health" - Tóibín
Figures released by the Department of Further and Higher Education to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD reveal that 743 students who were initially awarded SUSI grants for this academic year subsequently had their grants withdrawn from them upon review.
Speaking on the topic, Deputy Tóibín said: "It certainly feels like I am getting more phone calls this year than ever before from students who have issues with their SUSI grants. It seems like SUSI are behaving in a manner which is more conservative, strict and less compassionate than previous years. We have a situation where students are suffering, stuck at home, in the prime of their lives, during a time of recession. The last thing students need is harsh treatment from SUSI. The stories I'm hearing from some students are heart-breaking. I had one student in touch with me who was orphaned last year. He took time out from college to care for his guardian before she died. He informed the college he was dropping out. However, the college failed to notify SUSI and kept seeking fees payment from SUSI"
"When applying for the grant this year the student was told that not alone was he to be refused the grant, but that he was expected to pay them back the fees they had paid last year. This amounted to thousands of euro, money which had never crossed his bank account, it went straight from SUSI to the college, yet it is the student who SUSI are targeting and requesting payment from. It's a disgraceful situation, an orphaned student with no employment opportunities due to Covid and lockdown, and no income, being saddled with debt in his grief by SUSI. I have raised the issue with Minister Harris many times, but the issue is still not resolved".
"Today we see that 743 students who were initially awarded student grants have had their grant removed from them. What I want to know is whether or not SUSI is requesting that these students pay back their fees. The Minister could not confirm or deny this when asked by Aontú recently. If SUSI mistakenly awards someone a SUSI grant and then withdraws it, they should not be expecting the innocent party - the student - to repay the grant overpayment. It is not the students' faults that the government is incompetent and that the SUSI system is not fit for purpose. The Minister must now provide the Dáil with an update on his plans to reform SUSI", concluded Tóibín.