I propose to take Questions Nos. 318 and 321 together.
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 in recognition of the significant upheaval they have experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will offer financial assistance to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions.
The scheme will be provided to students:
- Who avail of the SUSI grant will receive €250 top-up in their grant;
- 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 a €15 million technology fund for devices for students in further and higher education to assist with difficulties in accessing technology to facilitate their course work in a blended capacity. These supports are being distributed through the colleges and further education providers.