With nearly 3 months of the first semester completed, pilule Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) has paid out grants to 360 UCD students since it started processing applications in the summer. This is in contrast to the 860 students who received their grant in the same time frame by county councils and VEC’s last year.
In figures released to The College Tribune by UCD it is revealed that just 300 undergraduates have received approval for their grants from SUSI along with 60 postgraduate students.
This is believed to be one third of all applications SUSI is set to process and approve for UCD.
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn apologised to students affected by the situation in the Dáil last Tuesday saying, “I want to apologise formally to those students and their parents for the distress these delays are causing and ultimately, as Minister for Education and Skills, I accept responsibility…If there are mistakes in the system, I didn’t make them but I am responsible for them”.
Across Ireland over 66,000 applications have been received by SUSI, but just 3010 grants have been approved by the organisation. It is hoped that 33,000 of these applications will be approved by SUSI before Christmas.
SUSI is a new online system that has been put in place to replace the processing of grants via local authorities and VEC’s around the country. Run by the City of Dublin VEC it processes grant applications for all 1st year undergraduates and for students who are new to the grant system.
Meanwhile, UCD Administrative Services have confirmed that access to the library is to be restored to 115 postgraduate students who did not have the use of library facilities due to the delays in processing their grant applications.
Speaking to the College Tribune, Director of UCD Administrative Services Michael Sinnott said “of the 400 plus graduate taught students for which we have an indication of an application to SUSI, 115 currently do not have access to the library. On foot of recent indications as to the like[ly] persistence of SUSI issues we will be extending library access to these students.”
This decision follows on from a protest held on campus against the curtailment of access and criticism from the CEO of the HEA, Tom Boland towards some institutions for failing to provide for those students affected by SUSI delays.
-By Ronan Coveney