Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (148)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the recourse available in the case of a person (details supplied). [23101/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The student grant scheme, administered by SUSI, provides maintenance grants to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

Student maintenance grants are payable at either the adjacent or non-adjacent rate. The distance to be measured is the shortest non-tolled most direct route from the student’s residence to the institution attended. The adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable in the case of students whose normal residence is 45km or less from the approved institution which he or she is attending. The non-adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable in all other cases.

The measurement of the distances relating to the award of adjacent or non-adjacent rates of student grant is a matter for SUSI, the grant awarding authority. The distance measurement for student grant rates is governed by Article 27(3)(a) and (b) of the Student Grant Scheme 2020. 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 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 was the introduction of Eircode which has helped to reduce processing times for applicants.

The distance is always measured from the student's normal residence to the campus the student is attending and never the reverse. The distance is always measured avoiding tolls. The 'depart at' time is set to 1am to ensure consistency by measuring each SUSI Applicant's adjacency at the same time

The decision on eligibility for student grant assistance is a matter, in the first instance, for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine.

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.

My officials advised that the student in question has engaged fully in the statutory appeals process and that on 1st September 2020 the independent Student Grant Appeals Board upheld the decisions of the grant awarding authority and the Appeals Officer and determined that the distance from the student’s residence to the relevant third level institution was under 45km and the adjacent rate of grant was the correct rate of grant to be awarded.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Questions Nos. 149 and 150 answered with Question No. 147.