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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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SUSI affair was 'chaos' says Mary Lou McDonald

Eamon Gilmore says that he cannot guarantee that third-level grants will be paid before Christmas, but says that ‘lessons have been learned’.

(TheJournalVideo/YouTube)

NEARLY SIX-HUNDRED STUDENTS still await payment of third-level student grants in what Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald called a ‘glimpse into the chaos of the last 12 months’.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions today, McDonald asked Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore for assurances that this year the payments would be made before Christmas.

While Gilmore said that ‘nobody was satisfied’ with the first year of the body which handled the grants, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), McDonald said that it went beyond mere dissatisfaction.

“The very fact that nearly 600 students still have complications tells you something.

It offers just a glimpse of the chaos that reigned in this system for a year. Students and parents were at breakdown level at the levels of bureaucracy and red tape.

Gilmore said that an overhaul of the system would streamline the application process and make it smoother, in accordance with an internal report prepared by consulting firm Accenture. However, the Tánaiste stopped short of giving any guarantees about payments.

“Last year there was a transfer from 66 bodies who handle third-level grants into one, SUSI.

“I have acknowledged as has the Minister for Education that there were problems. Lessons have been learned from SUSI. There is now 23 extra staff, with 3 senior staff.

“It is fair to say that students should not experience the same problems, but it depends on the individual applications. When someone puts in an application, nobody can give a guarantee that an application would be approved.”

Read: Students can complain to the Ombudsman over grant problems

Read: CAO applications for business courses on the rise

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