I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 and 193 together.
The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant, takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis.
The measurement of the distances relating to the award of adjacent or non-adjacent rates of student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. The distance measurement for student grant rates is governed by Article 27(3)(a) and (b) of the Student Grant Scheme 2019. This provides that the relevant distance will be measured in line with agreed guidelines.
The guidelines require that the shortest most direct route between the applicant's normal residence and the institution being attended should apply. In determining the shortest most direct route, the relevant awarding authority shall establish:
- the method for measuring a route; and
- the factors to be taken into account in establishing and measuring a route.
SUSI has progressively introduced a number of measures that are intended to make the Student Grant Scheme more efficient for students. One of these measures is the introduction of Eircode which has helped to reduce processing times for applicants.
However, the actual calculation of distance from a student's home to college has not changed from previous years, and SUSI continues to use google maps to calculate distance.
With regard to the number of students who have moved from the non-adjacent to the adjacent rate in 2019/20, there can be a number of reasons why a student may move from one grant rate to another. These include: students returning from studying abroad e.g. for work placement or Erasmus; change of college or campus; permanent change of normal address etc. For the 2019/20 academic year SUSI has advised that to date, 210 renewal students have moved from non-adjacent to adjacent. SUSI has also advised that to date, 170 students have moved from adjacent to non-adjacent
If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe. Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie