In response to a parliamentary question tabled by Sinn Féin, the Minister admitted that out of 4,177 grant applications from Galway students only 747 have been awarded.
The Sinn Féin Senator stated,“It is now obvious that the new SUSI system of processing student grants is not delivering the efficiency promised. Out of a national figure of 65,000 applications, decisions have only be made on just over 12,000 and 3,000 have been awarded. What was hailed as a more effective, efficient online system has in reality become a disaster for the students and families who rely on the third level grant. There are serious flaws with the new system and this has resulted in delayed payments, poor communication and inadequate responses to applications and document submissions.”
“We are now nearly into November and thousands of Galway students are left without their essential financial supports. My office in Galway has been inundated with calls from concerned students and parents who have been left in financial dire straits as a result of this latest fiasco. This controversy has jeopardised the college places of some students who simply cannot afford to attend third level institutions.”
The Senator concluded, “Sinn Féin is calling on the Minister to enact a system whereby students can track their applications online and be kept informed of their application status. A better designed more user friendly website would also help and we must improve the briefing and training of Helpdesk staff, who are doing their best under difficult circumstances. It is neither fair nor logical, that a new system introduced to improve the processing of third level grants has become a nightmare for students who simply cannot afford to learn”