Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

229 Mr. N. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a third level education course (details supplied) is no longer being grant aided under the TLT grant scheme, as it was in previous years. [3931/03]

A one-year access foundation course is not an approved course for the purpose of considering eligibility under my Department's maintenance grants schemes.

Accordingly, the relevant authorities in Cork IT and County Cork VEC have been advised that students pursuing the course in question are ineligible to be considered for grant assistance by reference to the terms and conditions of funding of the relevant scheme.

Officials in my Department are currently considering an appeal against the decision taken in relation to this course and a response will issue as soon as possible.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

230 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether an assessment from the Department of Social and Family Affairs for a person who is an old age non-contributory pensioner should be adequate proof of income to prove eligibility for a college grant. [3932/03]

The decision on eligibility for third level grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is desired. It appears that no such advice or instruction has, to date, been sought in the case of the student, referred to by the Deputy.

If an individual applicant considers that she or he has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she or he may appeal to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his or her case, a letter outlining the position may be sent to my Department. Alternatively, as already indicated, the local authority or VEC may, itself, in exceptional circumstances, seek clarification on issues from my Department.
However, it is not open to me, or my Department, to depart from the terms of the maintenance grants schemes in individual cases.