Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (306)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

306. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who applied for Student Universal Support Ireland grants to pursue a course of study outside the State; the number of these who were erroneously informed by the Department that they would receive a grant to cover the course fees; the steps he has taken to adequately compensate any students in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31622/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that some 702 students applied for support to pursue a course of study outside of the State in 2012/13.

The Deputy will be aware that the provision of information and decisions on student grants are operational matters for SUSI rather than for my Department. While some students may have had the impression that a grant award would be made to them on the basis of their telephone discussion with SUSI regarding the progress or detailed aspects of their application, I understand that it is the policy of SUSI not to confirm or give any indication to students regarding the decision or award of a grant otherwise than formally in writing and following full assessment. There are internal review procedures as well as internal and external appeals mechanisms in place whereby students may query or appeal any aspect of the assessment of their grant application by SUSI and there is also the possibility of referral to the Ombudsman in respect of SUSI’s administrative procedures.

The Deputy will appreciate that, in the context of SUSI having received in excess of 69,000 applications in 2012/13, some administrative errors will inevitably arise when handling a high volume of applications within a relatively short timeframe. In a very small number of cases where an administrative error was made by SUSI in actually awarding a grant, and the formal award of a grant in writing was subsequently rescinded by SUSI, the grant scheme does not provide for the award of a grant where the applicant is not entitled to receive a grant under the terms of the scheme.