Senator for Roscommon-Galway, Aisling Dolan, recently hosted a successful public consultation meeting with Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, asking students and their parents for feedback on the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI ) programme.
This is the main financial support scheme for students studying in Ireland and abroad. Student grants are divided into maintenance and fee grants.
“Minister Simon Harris is forging a path in this brand new Department for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. We see new policies and funds under the Minister’s responsibilities with over €15 million allocated for student support in terms of access to devices, doubling the Student Assistance Fund and support for Mental Health Services,” Senator Dolan said.
The Fine Gael Senator said that thousands of secondary students in 17 secondary schools in the constituency of South Roscommon and East Galway are planning their next steps after school.
“The SUSI student support programme is sometimes the only way that students can go on to do further study,” the Senator commented.
Senator Aisling Dolan said that without state financial support, she would not have been able to complete her degree after school and she highlighted how financial support is crucial to ensuring students can reach their maximum potential.
“It is important for students and parents to look at all the options available to reach a chosen career path with so many NFQ courses offered at part-time and full-time with further and higher education courses. The Minister also highlighted his goal of expanding the CAO application to include these options.”
“The level of engagement from students, parents and schools in the area showed that the SUSI scheme is in urgent need of review as students highlighted concerns with reckonable income as many work part-time jobs. Thank you to all for taking the time to join in this consultation,” Senator Dolan stated.
The event saw Career Guidance Counsellors from secondary schools in the region speak about reducing or removing registration fees so that the maintenance grant could go further.
Nuala Kilgannon, Adult Guidance Co-ordinator with GRETB (Galway Roscommon Education Training Board ) encouraged the Minister to include Adult Education Services and School Career Guidance as stakeholders in the SUSI consultation process.
The Minister highlighted the positive supports being provided to postgraduate students with maximum payments rising from €2,000 to €3,500 and the income threshold from €31,000 to €54,240. Minister Harris also highlighted the timelines for the SUSI consultation and that these changes could be put in place for Budget 2022.
“SUSI gives students support as they continue their studies after secondary schools. We have many areas of disadvantage and families who are struggling to ensure students can get by in college. We also have more single parent families who are facing additional challenges. Now is the time to see that the SUSI support programme is fit for purpose,” Senator Dolan concluded.