6 Sep 2019, 15.43
The third level SUSI grant and back to school costs will be examined at a special Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills meeting in advance of the commencement of the Autumn Parliamentary Session.
The meeting will take place in Leinster House Committee Room 2, next Thursday 12 September.
Eligibility criteria for the SUSI grant, parents resorting to money lenders to pay for rising school costs and increased use of tablets and other electronic devices in the classroom are among the issues up for discussion.
SUSI – Student University Support Ireland - and leading student, school and parent representative groups plus charities Barnardos and the Society of St Vincent will make presentations to TDs and Senators.
The meeting, which will be split into two sessions, will take place from 10.30a.m.
Session one will examine the eligibility criteria, application procedures and appeals process of the SUSI grant.
Session two will examine the advantages and disadvantages of Textbook Rental Schemes in schools, the use of technology for education and the possible necessity of parents or guardians resorting to money lenders to meet the basic costs of educating their children.
SUSI is the single Irish national awarding authority for student grants in further and higher education. The Susi grant supports thousands of students through college.
Chairperson of the Education and Skills Committee, Fiona O’Loughlin TD said: “This meeting is taking place against a back drop of sky-high rents and rising university student accommodation costs. As a result, many students are facing longer and more expensive commutes as they are priced out of living away from home to begin their third level education.
“SUSI was expecting to receive a projected 99,000 grant applications from new and returning students for the 2019/20 academic year. We are very interested to hear from SUSI about the grant application process and from students on the issues they are facing in relation to the grant, from the level of the payment to the criteria to qualify.”
Easing the financial burden on parents of “ever-increasing” school costs was among the calls made the Committee when it published three reports in July. The Committee wants to see €20 million in increased funding for the school book rental scheme in budget 2020 to allow more schools to avail of the scheme and reduce costs to parents.
Deputy O’Loughlin said: “Reports that parents are turning to money lenders to cover the cost of sending their children to school is of real concern. The meeting on Thursday is an opportunity for us to explore this further and to hear from groups including St Vincent de Paul (SVP) about the reality for some parents as they struggle to juggle regular household bills with return to school costs.
She added: “We will get to hear from parent and school groups on how school book rental schemes are currently working on the ground.
“We are extremely interested in examining the advantages and disadvantages of the use of technology like tablets and equivalent devices in the classroom from an educational point of view but also the financial burden or benefits the increased use of digital devices is placing on parents and schools”
Session one will hear from Students Union of Ireland (SUI), Student University Support Ireland (SUSI), The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU).
Session two will hear from the Joint Managerial Board (JMB), Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCpp), National Parents Councl (Primary) (NPCp), Society of Saint Vincent De Paul (SVP) and Barnardos.
All of the groups and charities making presentations were approached by the Joint Committee on Education and Skills Committee during the summer, and asked to make submission
submissions on the chosen topics.
Committee proceedings can be viewed live here.
Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the move, through the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.