Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (668)

Seán Canney


668. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his attention has been drawn to a problem that has arisen for veterinary students studying in Poland trying to access SUSI grants for the final one and a half years of their degree course; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the five and a half year course is a degree programme comprised of 330 ECTS and is being treated as if it was an integrated masters course by SUSI; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact is that the current interpretation by SUSI, which deems the first four years of the course as undergraduate and the final one and a half years as masters is placing Irish students studying in Poland at a disadvantage compared to those studying for a veterinary degree in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38348/20]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the state agency with statutory responsibility for the quality assurance of further and higher education and training in Ireland. QQI is responsible for maintaining the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ is a system of ten levels which aims to make the qualifications system in Ireland easier to understand, thus facilitating the recognition of Irish qualifications both at home and abroad. QQI also hosts the Irish centre of the European Network of Information Centres / National Academic Recognition Information Centre (ENIC-NARIC). This service comprises a network of centres that facilitates the recognition of academic qualifications throughout Europe and further afield including Australia. Further details are available at: www.qualrec.ie

A course placed at Level 8 (or equivalent) on the NFQ is undergraduate level. A course placed at Level 9 (or equivalent) on the NFQ is postgraduate level.

SUSI grant funding is available for approved undergraduate courses in approved higher education institutions within the EU. No maintenance funding is available for postgraduate courses outside of Ireland.

Some high end courses abroad have an integrated undergraduate and postgraduate element. For these courses, SUSI may issue maintenance grants during the undergraduate element of the course but will not provide any support for the postgraduate element. Third level institutions are autonomous bodies and as such have responsibility for their own academic affairs, including issues relating to the composition and content of courses.

Further details of the funding available for integrated masters’ courses within the EU, is available on the SUSI website where students can determine their eligibility for grant support prior to attending a course: https://susi.ie/student-studying-outside-the-state/approved-institutionscourses-for-students-studying-outside-the-state/

In line with the Programme for Government, I am launching a Review of the SUSI scheme. This review will focus on:

- Assessing the impact of Covid on the SUSI scheme .

- Review of eligibility and adjacency rates.

- Examining the future role of SUSI in supporting different forms of provision in line with national priorities, including postgraduate studies and part-time provision.

It is intended that the Review will commence before the end of 2020, and will report in Summer 2021. Stakeholders will be consulted as part of the Review process, and it is intended that the future direction of the SUSI scheme will be guided by the outcome of the Review.