Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (662)

Jim O'Callaghan


662. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will extend the €250 rebate to third-level postgraduate students that have had their education moved online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38139/20]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I am very conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on our students. To ensure the safety of our students and staff in further and higher education, the majority of college is online this semester. In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students the Government has approved once off funding of €50m to provide additional financial assistance in this academic year.

The funding, which was provided in Budget 2021, will offer financial assistance to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in recognition of the significant uncertainty and stress they have experienced due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme will ensure students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive €250 top-up in their grant before Christmas, while students who do not avail of the grant can reduce by €250 any outstanding contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution. In a small number of cases, alternative arrangements will be made for the payment of the monies to students.

Additionally Budget 2021 provides further funding to enhance SUSI grant supports for post-grads and increase support for the PATH access initiative, which seeks to increase participation in Higher Education from the most economically disadvantaged students.

This builds on the specific student supports in response to Covid, which I announced in July including the provision of additional student assistance including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund and an additional 3m for student wellbeing initiatives in 2020.