THE UNION OF Students in Ireland say they will fight any attempt to cut third-level grants following reports it is being considered as an option in October’s Budget.
USI said students are “ready and equipped” to stop the Department of Education from decreasing the maintenance grant – which is paid to almost 90,000 students – saying that it would push many families to breaking point.
Reports in the Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post today say Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn is considering a blanket cut to the payment as part of a range of measures to save €44 million in his department. Quinn had previously proposed to means-test the assets of students’ parents – including property and shares worth more than €750,000 – but the plan was met with opposition from coalition partners Fine Gael.
“Let there be no doubt that our members will organise and firmly oppose any attempt to further cut the maintenance grant,” said USI President Joe O’Connor.
The Government and Minister Quinn must be aware that students will not take this lying down, and will take their opposition to the streets, to constituency offices and to the ballot box.
O’Connor highlighted a recent survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions which found that parents spend an average of €421 every month on their college-going children and that the vast majority find it difficult to meet the cost.
“Any further cut to the grant will push these struggling families over the edge,” he said.
The maintenance grant varies from €306 to €3,025, depending on the distance between where the student lives and the location of the third level institution they attend.
Members of the Union of Students in Ireland outside Leinster House during the week to call on Ruairi Quinn to protect the grant (Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Originally published at 1.30pm