FÁS Training Programmes Provision

Questions (322)

Jim Daly

Question:

322. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied with the arrangement of a private company funded by the State offering training courses in County Cork in direct opposition to the local secondary school which already offers these courses and is endeavouring to maintain its pupil numbers for survival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8421/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of MOMENTUM is to help enhance the collaboration and engagement between employers and enterprise with education and training providers so as to design and deliver a range of innovative and relevant projects for individuals who have been unemployed for 12 months or more in support of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs and the National Skills Strategy. Funding is being utilised to provide solutions to the needs of both unemployed individuals and employers. Part of the strategy of the MOMENTUM programme is to provide projects in areas where research has identified potential job placement and opportunities. The projects have been distributed nationally, thus providing a good regional spread - including areas of significant disadvantage. It should be noted that the MOMENTUM fund represents less than 1.5% of the overall further education budget.

The MOMENTUM fund allocation is based on national research from organisation reports from agencies such as FÁS and FORFAS which indicate the types of occupations that have current job vacancies and MOMENTUM is focused on those areas. Courses were selected using a competitive tender process administered by FÁS. This process was used to select the best courses that would deliver the results needed to place people in jobs. FÁS cannot disclose the value of the contract awarded to the contractor in question, as this information is currently not in the public domain. The tender scoring took the cost of the projects into account in the award of the contracts. Furthermore, the structure of the funding is based on a financial risk transfer model. This means that the contractor's payments are based on the delivery of specific project outcomes, ensuring that the taxpayer gets the best value for money.

Value for Money Reviews

Questions (323)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

323. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the small schools value for money review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8503/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The value for money review of small primary school provision is at an advanced stage of preparation. I expect to publish the review and I look forward to debating its findings at that stage.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (324)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

324. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if income earned will continue to be the basis for eligibility for higher education grants; if he will reassure worried families that the value of the assets used to earn income will not form part of his future assessment plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8504/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a dedicated capital assets test implementation group was established to bring forward detailed implementation proposals on new means testing arrangements for student grants, to include the value of assets. I have received a draft report from the implementation group. This is currently under consideration and I will be consulting further with my cabinet colleagues in the matter in due course. I can assure families that the intention behind this approach is to ensure that, at a time of reduced resources, the Government targets valuable schemes, such as the student grant scheme, at those who need them most. Equally, it is to ensure that those who can afford to pay to go to higher education should do so. Under any new means testing arrangement, families whose income and assets fall below a certain level, will continue to be eligible for third level grants for their children.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (325)

Finian McGrath

Question:

325. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the proposal to establish a second level Educate Together School in Dublin north city area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8521/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware in June 2011, I announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established up to 2017 to cater for increasing demographics across a number of locations. These consisted of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools. This announcement did not include a proposal to establish any new second level school in the Dublin north city area. The Forward Planning Section of my Department will continue to monitor enrolments in this area to ensure that there is sufficient school accommodation to meet any projected future demands.

FÁS Training Programmes Provision

Questions (326)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

326. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 193 and 194 of 4 December 2012, when a response will issue from FÁS. [8522/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A response issued from my office on Friday 15th February 2013.

School Curriculum

Questions (327)

Jim Daly

Question:

327. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procedures to be followed by primary schools in issuing certificates to exempt students from studying the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8523/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In primary and post-primary schools recognised by my Department the study of Irish is compulsory however, there are certain limited circumstances whereby an exemption from the study of Irish may be granted. In this regard my Department's Circular 12/96 for pupils attending recognised primary schools outlines the circumstances whereby an exemption from the study of Irish may be granted. Under the terms of this circular delegated authority to grant exemptions, within the conditions laid down, is vested in the school management authorities of recognised primary schools. This circular also describes the procedures a recognised primary school should follow in considering whether or not to grant an exemption. Where a school decides to grant an exemption the decision should be conveyed to the parent or guardian by way of a written certificate, signed by the school principal.

Third Level Fees

Questions (328)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

328. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that it has now been reported that universities are hiring debt collection agencies to pursue students over outstanding fees. [8529/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, under my Departments free fees scheme eligible full-time undergraduate students have their tuition fees paid on their behalf by the Exchequer. The student contribution, which is currently €2,250 per academic year, is payable by students who qualify under the free fees scheme. Students who qualify under my Department's student grant scheme have the student contribution paid on their behalf by the Exchequer. The Higher Education Authority (HEA), at my request, asked institutions to put arrangements in place whereby students may pay the contribution in two instalments. This is in order to spread the financial cost of third level, rather than having to make one lump payment at the start of the academic year.

The position is that higher education institutions, including universities, are autonomous bodies and I have no role in their day to day operational affairs. Those matters are the responsibility of the management authority and governing body. In relation to the specific issue of debt collectors, as referred to by the Deputy, I would hope that institutions deal with such students in a sensitive and understanding manner.

School Transport Applications

Questions (329)

James Bannon

Question:

329. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on transport provision for a child attending an autism unit (details supplied); the costs pertaining to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8627/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme, a pupil with special needs is eligible for transport if s/he is attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/ special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet the child's special educational needs under Department of Education and Skills criteria. The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Needs is to provide a reasonable level of transport service for children with a diagnosed disability and/or special educational need. A Special Transport Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements may be provided at the discretion of my Department in certain situations including where Bus Éireann is not in a position to provide a transport service. The family referred to by the Deputy in the details supplied has recently been advised of the position regarding the Special Transport Grant.

Schools Review

Questions (330)

Billy Timmins

Question:

330. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an emergency works grant in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8633/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for the erection of railings on the boundary wall in July 2012. This application was refused as the scope of works for which funding was sought was outside the terms of the scheme. This decision was appealed and the school authority were informed that the project still remained outside the scope of the scheme. In December, 2012 the school authorities advised my Department that the works had been carried out by the parents and requested funding to cover the cost of these works. My Department does not provide grant aid for projects undertaken by schools without prior approval.

School Management

Questions (331)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

331. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that proper management structures are put in place in a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8634/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the appointment of a Board of Management of a school is a matter for the relevant school patron. Under the provisions of this Act, where a Patron determines that the appointment of a Board is not practicable, or where the Patron, with the consent of the Minister, has dissolved a Board of Management, the Patron may appoint a manager or managers to perform the functions of the Board. In the case of the school in question, the patron has, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Education Act 1998, appointed a single manager to manage the school.

School Accommodation

Questions (332)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

332. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the need for additional classroom space at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8638/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation from the school to which he refers. The application is currently being assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

School Staffing

Questions (333)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

333. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for moving to a system whereby recently qualified teachers will be probated by their school principal rather than a Department inspector; if a circular was issued to schools in relation to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8668/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Access to the profession of teaching in recognised schools in Ireland is regulated. The Teaching Council is the designated authority for the regulation of the profession. Section 7(2)(f) and Section 7(2)(g) of the Teaching Council Act 2001 were commenced on 1 September 2012, conferring responsibility for induction and probation procedures to the Teaching Council. The Council requires that all primary teachers successfully complete probation in order to achieve full registration (registration without conditions). The Inspectorate of my Department evaluates the professional competence of primary teachers, in accordance with Circular 0029/2012 for the purposes of informing the Teaching Council's decisions regarding registration. The Council is preparing proposals for the probation for all teachers for consultation. However in the school year 2012/13 the Inspectorate continues to evaluate the professional competence of primary teachers, for the purposes of informing the Teaching Council's decisions regarding registration.

School Evaluations

Questions (334)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

334. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is proposing changing the system of whole school evaluation to a system of self evaluation by school authorities; if a circular was issued to schools in relation to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8669/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I launched a new system of school self-evaluation for all schools last November. My Department issued circulars 0039/2012 (primary) and 0040/2012 (post-primary) which explain the school self-evaluation process and the actions required at school level. The Inspectorate has published comprehensive guidelines for schools and is delivering a range of other supports for school self-evaluation. School self-evaluation will work alongside and complement the annual programme of external inspections conducted by the Inspectorate to provide an integrated and robust system of quality assurance.

I do not intend to change the very good external inspection arrangements that we have. However, in the years ahead, as schools develop their capacity to conduct effective school self-evaluation, models of inspection will be further adapted to assess, validate and take full account of each school's own self-evaluation and improvement planning. By connecting school self-evaluation and external inspection in this way we can achieve a more integrated quality assurance system for schools supporting the provision of a high quality and effective school experience for all learners.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (335)

Micheál Martin

Question:

335. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current position regarding funding to progress a new school proposed (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8680/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The proposed building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. Due to competing demands on my Department's capital budget, imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet those increasing demographic requirements, it was not possible to include this project in the five year construction programme announced last year.

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (336)

Jim Daly

Question:

336. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 301 of 12 February 2013, if he will confirm the number of students that applied for a higher education grant form the State in 2011; if he will compute the approximate cost of assessing and determining the eligibility of these applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8690/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For the 2011/12 academic year, some 88,834 students applied for a higher education grant - 45,715 new applications and 43,119 renewals for continuing students. In addition some 13,883 students applied for a further education grant - 11,920 new applications and 1,963 renewals for continuing students. This information has been compiled from data provided by the 66 grant awarding authorities to the Department and it reflects the position as at the third week in January 2012. It is estimated that the cost of administration of student grants by the 66 grant awarding authorities in 2011 was in the region of €10.5m.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (337)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

337. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to issue a policy document on educating children with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8692/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that policy can be expressed and manifested through a variety of forms. Explicitly, it is communicated via legislation, regulations, rulings, orders, plans, strategies, policy statements, and other forms – or through a combination of these. Therefore the Deputy will appreciate that specific policies and objectives are not always articulated in just one document. However my officials are currently compiling a document to bring together and further clarify the various strands of policy in this area.

My Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools without additional teaching or care supports. Others are able to attend mainstream schools but need additional teaching and/or care assistance. Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge.

The preferred policy of my Department is that children with autism are educated in school settings where children may have access to individualised education programmes (IEPs), fully-qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants, the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Autism classes are established with a staffing ratio of 1 teacher and a minimum of 2 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) for every 6 children. Other SNAs may be allocated if required to meet the care needs of the children. Start-up grants are provided to the schools to enable special equipment to be purchased. Enhanced capitation is paid in respect of each child and assistive technology is funded where this is recommended.

This approach promotes the maximum level of inclusion which accords with the intent of the EPSEN Act. While some children may be able to attend a mainstream class, for others the most appropriate provision may be in a special class or unit in the school or in a special school. My Department supports provision in mainstream schools, some 540 special classes for autism attached to mainstream and special schools and 18 special schools for children with autism throughout the State which cater for the educational needs of some 5,000 children with autism, all of which operate within the policy parameters. This policy is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism. My Department has satisfied itself that research does not support the exclusive usage of any one approach as a basis for national educational provision for children with autism. It is for this reason that my Department's preferred policy is for a child centred approach where the approach to be taken is based on the individual child's needs.

In arriving at the preferred policy which is currently in place, my Department has considered published research, including the Report of the Task Force on Autism (2001) and the Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (2006), both of which are available on my Department's website and have also informed the policy. My Department was also mindful of contributions of many other experts at international conferences/visits have also informed the development views. My Department continues to develop policy and programmes for children with special educational needs, including those with autism, and will continue to take relevant professional advice into account in this regard.

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (338)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

338. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students from farming backgrounds currently in receipt of a student grant, broken down on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8744/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The table contains the available information in the Department in this matter. The data refers to the 2011/12 academic year and refers to new applications only. The equivalent data for 2012/2013 will not be available until the end of the current academic year. The information has been supplied by 66 grant awarding authorities. It is indicative data only as, for data protection reasons, it is not mandatory for students to provide details of their socio-economic backgrounds to a grant awarding authority. In 2011, for example, 34% did not declare the main household occupation. In addition, adequate information may not be provided to the grant awarding authorities to enable occupations to be classified.

Breakdown of new awards of Grants 2011/2012 under Socio Economic Categories

County

Farmers

Carlow

40

Cavan

70

Clare

122

Cork

69

Donegal

159

Dublin

1

Galway

62

Kerry

42

Kildare

9

Kilkenny

28

Laois

38

Leitrim

41

Limerick

27

Longford

31

Louth

3

Mayo

142

Meath

28

Monaghan

51

Offaly

50

Roscommon

79

Sligo

77

Tipperary

91

Waterford

42

Westmeath

29

Wexford

77

Wicklow

17

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (339)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

339. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average income of the farming families whose children qualified for a student grant in 2012/2013 or for the most recent year available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8745/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Data is not collated on average incomes for any socio-economic group. Grant applications are means tested on gross income from all sources earned inside and outside the State within a specified reference period. Various income thresholds for a grant apply depending on the number of dependent children in a family and/or the number of children attending further and higher education. Any applicant from any sector of society, including farmers, below these threshold and who meets all of the other terms and conditions of the student grant scheme will qualify for a grant. A table outlining the income thresholds for the 2012/13 academic year follows.

SCHEDULE 1

Reckonable Income Limits for maintenance and fee grants for the 2012/13 academic year

Part A

1. Reckonable income limits:

The period 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011 is the reference period for the academic year 2012/13. The income limits that apply to tuition students relate to the fee elements only. A tuition student does not qualify for any maintenance grant.

Income Limits for Maintenance and Fee Grants - Table A

-

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

Maintenance

-

Special Rate*

100% Standard

Rate

75% Standard

Rate

50% Standard

Rate

25% Standard

Rate

Not payable

Not payable

Not payable

-

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

Fee elements:

To qualify for

100% Tuition

Fees

100% Tuition

Fees

100% Tuition

Fees

100% Tuition

Fees

100% Tuition

Fees

50% Tuition Fees

Tuition Fees —

Not payable

Tuition Fees —

Not payable

To qualify for

100% Student

Contribution

100% Student

Contribution

100% Student

Contribution

100% Student

Contribution

100% Student

Contribution

100% Student

Contribution

50% Student

Contribution

50% Student

Contribution —

Not payable

To qualify for

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip — Not

payable

Field Trip — Not

payable

Field Trip — Not

payable

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Postgraduate Fee

Contribution:

No. of dependent

children

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Payable

Less than 4

€22,703

€41,110

€42,235

€44,720

€47,205

€51,380

€55,920

€31,500

4 — 7

€22,703

€45,165

€46,415

€49,145

€51,880

€56,460

€61,440

€34,615

8 or more

€22,703

€49,045

€50,400

€53,360

€56,320

€61,295

€66,700

€37,580

Additional increments that may be applied to the income limits in Table A for Maintenance and Fee Grants - Table B**

+ increment for each additional relevant person

€0

+ €4,980

+ €4,815

+ €4,815

+ €4,815

+ €4,980

+ €4,980

+ €4,980

*To be eligible for the special rate of maintenance an applicant's reckonable income on 31 December 2011 must include an eligible payment listed in Schedule 2.

** Increments which may be applied to the relevant income limits

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (340, 341)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

340. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish the report of the capital asset test implementation group by the end of this month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8746/13]

View answer

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

341. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the inclusion of capital assets in the means testing of students grants, if he is considering setting a limit on land valued at €750,000; if this is true, the way this figure was arrived at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8747/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 340 and 341 together.

The Deputy will be aware that a dedicated capital assets test implementation group was established to bring forward detailed implementation proposals on new means testing arrangements for student grants, to include the value of assets. No decision has been taken on setting a limit on the value of farm or other business assets that may be included in any new means testing arrangements. I have received a draft report from the implementation group. This is currently under consideration I will consult further with my cabinet colleagues before the report is published.

Childhood Obesity

Questions (342)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

342. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans in place to counter the spread of childhood obesity; the part that will be played by physical education as part of the school curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8749/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Currently, all primary and second-level schools provide PE as part of the curriculum and there are approved syllabuses for the subject. The new Framework for Junior Cycle which I published last October will, inter alia, aim to increase the importance of physical wellbeing in several ways:

- The Framework is based on eight Principles. The Principle of "Wellbeing" undertakes to ensure that "the student experience contributes directly to their physical wellbeing."

- In addition, eight Key Skills are required for successful learning across the curriculum and beyond the school. This is in recognition of the fact that learning takes place both inside and outside of the formal school environment. One of these Key Skills is "Staying Well", which adopts a holistic approach to wellbeing and includes "Being healthy, physical and active".

- Contained in the Junior Cycle's Statements of Learning is the stated aim that the student is "confident and competent in physical activity and is motivated to be physically active", and that he/she "understands the importance of food and diet in making healthy lifestyle choices".

- Perhaps most importantly in this respect, the new junior cycle will enable schools to offer Physical Education as a short course, which means that, for the first time, it can be certified. The issue of obesity is addressed in schools not only in the teaching of Physical Education, but also in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), and Home Economics. As part of the revised Junior Cycle, short courses are being prepared by the NCCA not only in PE but also in SPHE and will be available for schools from September2014. These courses may be assessed as a part of the School Certificate in the new Junior Cycle.

The Active School Flag, funded by my Department, was officially launched in 2009 to motivate and award schools which strive to achieve a physically active and physically educated school community. The funding provided to the ASF was €116,000 per year for the past 3 years, and €80,000 in 2012. Since September 2009, just over 1000 primary schools and 128 post-primary schools have registered for the programme. Some 180 schools have already been awarded their flags. The ASF rewards schools in their efforts in this area and the Department sees it as its initiative to enhance a student's healthy lifestyle. More schools are registering to participate each year.

In 2009 my Department carried out a Lifeskills Survey in primary and post primary schools. They found that in addition to formal PE provision that some 90% of schools encourage not only physical activity and regular exercise during school breaks but they also encourage the young people to participate in sport outside school time. The work in the school has to be complimented and reinforced by the families and the communities of our young people if the spread of childhood obesity is to be reduced.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (343)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

343. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the pay scale and allowances in respect of a teacher (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8764/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The pay scale and allowances of the person referred to by the Deputy are being checked at present. An official of my Department will contact the person referred to, as soon as possible and advise her of the position.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (344)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

344. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive the outcome of their appeal to Student Universal Support Ireland in relation to a student grant application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8767/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that the student in question appealed the original decision on his grant application to the appeals officer in SUSI and the original decision was overturned. The grant application was reassessed and a letter issued to the student on 25th January 2013 requesting further documentation. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.