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Students were “put through the mill” by SUSI

The Ombudsman is dealing with more than 50 complaints from third level students about the new grant-allocating body SUSI.

Members of the Union of Students in Ireland protest outside Leinster House to call for the grant to be protected in the upcoming Budget.
Members of the Union of Students in Ireland protest outside Leinster House to call for the grant to be protected in the upcoming Budget.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE OMBUDSMAN’S OFFICE has said that some third level students were “put through the mill” by the new grant-allocating body over the past year.

The Ombudsman – which deals with complaints about certain public bodies – had taken on more than 50 complaints relating to problems with the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

SUSI was set up to process grant applications last year, taking over the role from local authorities. However the new system was beset with delays and problems with processing applications.

Outgoing Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly took the unusual step in July of advising students affected by the delays in processing their applications that they could submit complaints to her office. Around 400 students were still waiting for their application appeals to be processed by mid-July.

Speaking at the launch of the Ombudsman’s annual report yesterday, Richie Philpott, an investigator who is handling complaints against SUSI, said the most common complaint the Ombudsman’s office has received is about the long delays.

Philpott said that SUSI is cooperating and are trying to work hard to solve the complaints.

SUSI has repeatedly said that things will be different for students this year and that it is more prepared for dealing with applications.

Read: SUSI ‘working closely’ with the Ombudsman on student grant complaints >

Read: Almost 8,000 applicants turned down for grant by SUSI >

Read: Ruairí Quinn considers cutting grants; students say ‘don’t even think about it’ >

Read: 59,000 new grant applicants received by SUSI ahead of deadline >

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