Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (34)

Seán Crowe


34. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will intervene to stop third level institutions employing debt collectors to pursue student debt, in view of the serious difficulties that arose from the processing of grants through Student Universal Support Ireland in the 2012-13 academic year. [32215/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will appreciate that third level institutions 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 understand that the debt that some institutions are trying to collect are those relating to student fees. All students are liable to pay fees or student contribution unless they qualify for some element of a fee grant under the Student Grant Scheme. Regarding the payment of fees, where a student has informed the institution that a decision is awaited from the grants system, I understand that SUSI has a facility in place allowing institutions to liaise with it directly to confirm the status of an individual application. It is understood from SUSI that their experience is that where there is a decision is awaited, and institutions have been in contact with them, the institutions are dealing with these cases in a sensitive and understanding manner.