Senator Jerry Buttimer speaking in the Seanad today welcomed the introduction of the Student Support Bill and the provisions within it but warned that a new singular grants body must be enacted immediately to ensure that students experience no further delays in accessing their grants.
Senator Buttimer said “I welcome the introduction of the Student Support Bill and am glad that it has finally come to fruition after so long at a time when our youngest and brightest are leaving the country in their droves. I especially welcome the cohesiveness that should follow once there is a single unified grant scheme implemented”
“I am however concerned by the fact that nearly 55% of grant applications were not processed in Cork by November. We cannot continue to allow a situation whereby students are waiting until Christmas each year to find out whether they will receive their grant. The independent appeals committee is a welcome addition to this Bill however the turnaround time of 90 days is too long. Students should not be left in limbo where it concerns their grant payments. Students should find out the result of their appeal within at least 45 days. With the average cost of living for a student living away from home is over €10,000 per year, the cut of 4% in the student grant in the recent Budget is another penalty on those who want to further themselves in education”
“Fine Gael proposed some vital amendments to this Bill. We realise how important it is that the 70,000 students who receive the grant each year should get it in a timely and efficient manner. Students have a stressful enough time throughout the year without any unnecessary distractions. This Bill has been a long time coming and despite the reduction in the grant and the change in criteria for the grant, it should provide a welcome relief to students around Cork and Ireland”.