ADDITIONAL STAFF HAVE been put in place to assist in the backlog of student grant applications, an Oireachtas Committee was told yesterday.
Appearing before a committee meeting on education, CEO of online application system SUSI, Jacinta Stewart said over 56,000 applications were received before the closing date at the end of August and a further 9,000 were received since then.
She said the grants system expects to have in excess of 30,000 awards made by the end of December, with additional staff being put in place to help deal with the backlog.
SUSI has received ten extra temporary staff from the Public Appointments Service and an additional ten will join on Monday.
Yesterday Fianna Fáil brought forward a Private Member’s Motion on third level fees and the SUSI grant processing system.
In the Dáil, Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin said “the priorities which have been followed to date are making the Irish education system more unfair and less effective”.
Commenting on motion yesterday Fine Gael TD Derek Keating said it “completely ignores the fact that it was the previous administration who created complete chaos in the education sector with students having to go to as numerous different agencies to access grants”.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn apologised to students and their parents last night in the Dáil for the problem with applications.
“It is not acceptable for colleges to prevent students from accessing libraries, email accounts, lecture notes, or any resource because their grants have not yet been processed,” he said.
He said as the minister for education and skills he accepted responsibility for the problem but said now was not the time for an inquiry.
“Let’s fix the problem and give the grants out and get the confirmation out to all of the applicants who are eligible… I don’t want to have an inquiry in the middle of trying to solve the problem,” he said.