Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (248)

Seán Fleming


248. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list the membership of the student grants appeals board; their qualifications and appropriateness for the position; the criteria used to appoint them; how often they meet; the cost of this board; the persons that provide the administrative support and back-up to the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9876/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I established the Student Grants Appeals Board (Appeals Board) on 8 September 2011 in accordance with Section 25 of the Student Support Act 2011. The Appeals Board is independent in the performance of its functions. It comprises of a Chairperson and six ordinary members, all appointed in their individual capacities based on their knowledge and expertise.

The membership of the Appeals Board is as follows:-

Ms. Maureen Waldron, Chairperson, former Director in the Department of Social Protection; Mr. Pádraic McNamara (vice-Chair), former Chief Executive Officer of the State Examinations Commission; Dr. Marie Clarke, Lecturer, School of Education at UCD; Ms. Rebecca Murphy, former Student Union Welfare Officer, University College Cork; Ms. Eithne Frost, Consultant in the Voluntary Sector; Ms. Brenna Clarke, retired Professor of English at St. Patrick's College of Education; Professor Kevin Ryan, former Registrar of the University of Limerick.

Prior to an applicant making an appeal to the Appeals Board, an initial appeal in writing to the relevant awarding authority is provided for under the Student Support Act 2011. This provides for a review of the decision by an appeals officer of the grant awarding authority, independently of the original assessment process. If, after this initial appeal, the grant applicant still remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board. The Appeals Board is fully independent in the performance of its functions. The inaugural sitting of the Appeals Board took place on 7th October 2011. Since that date the Appeals Board has sat on 20 occasions over a 16 month period to consider appeals. Appeals are received on an on-going basis throughout an academic year. Since its establishment, the Appeals Board sittings have taken place at intervals varying from 2 to 4 weeks: the frequency of sittings is determined by the volume of appeals submitted and the requirement that the Appeals Board make a determination on the appeal within the 60 day timeframe specified in the Student Support Act 2011.

Since its establishment in 2011, the following amounts have issued to the Appeals Board members:-

- Allowances - €15,450.00;

- Travel and Subsistence - €6,591.61. Total paid for 2011 and 2012 (as at 20 Feb 13) €22,041.61*

*Claims in respect of attendance at the December 2012 sitting have yet to be claimed or paid.

Administrative support to the Appeals Board is provided by my Department.