Extra resources needed for SUSI in next month – Connaughton

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With Christmas fast approaching, extra resources must be put into the City of Dublin VEC to ensure that students awaiting grants before Christmas are paid, according to Paul Connaughton T.D.
‘In recent days and weeks, I have been contacted by a huge number of anxious students and parents seeking to ensure that they receive their grant money before the end of the year. City of Dublin VEC tendered to provide the centralised grant service, which resulted in the application system being taken out of county Galway and to say that the system has proved hugely frustrating for students and parents would be a huge understatement.
‘Parents are spending hard earned euro on hold waiting to speak to someone in SUSI, and even those who have been approved for the grant are finding that they are still facing delays. I know that extra resources have been put into the system in recent days in response to the major difficulties being experienced by students and parents, but much more needs to be done in order to ensure that the commitment made to students, that all grants will be finalised by the end of the year, is met.
‘Lessons have to be learned from this debacle, not least that such centralisation of services is not always a good idea. In previous years, parents in County Galway could travel to Athenry and sort out their difficulties by speaking to a member of staff face to face, but the current system is completely faceless and rather than being transparent, it has proved completely opaque for students and parents.
‘Another lesson that has to be learned from this is that when centralised services are being put in place, it should be done on a phased basis to ensure that the necessary capacity is there. To date, the necessary capacity has not been available in the City of Dublin VEC and I would urge the Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to ensure that all necessary resources are put in place in coming weeks to sort out the remaining grants. Students and their parents cannot sustain the expense of life in college in the current environment when they are unsure as to whether or not their grant application will be successful.’