Students and their parents from County Roscommon are being urged to attend an online public consultation with Minister Simon Harris on Thursday next, February 25th, at 7 p.m..
The meeting has been organised by Senator for Roscommon/Galway, Aisling Dolan, and will garner feedback from students and their parents on the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) programme, which is the main financial support scheme for students studying in Ireland and abroad.
Student grants are divided into maintenance and fee grants and Minister Harris is commencing a review of the scheme with a view to considering the current challenges facing students and finding out what we can do better.
Senator Dolan outlined that she had planned this event for some time, having worked in the Third Level education sector. She added that she was very mindful about the needs of families.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for students and their families to give direct feedback on the SUSI programme at the most senior level with Minister Simon Harris.
“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,” she explained.
Minister Harris said that he was looking forward to speaking to families and students in the Roscommon area.
“The student grant scheme opens the door for many people to access further and higher education. However, the scheme has remained static despite significant changes in Irish society in recent years.
“We are likely to see an increase in grant holders next year as a result of the pandemic. It is timely to now review the scheme administered by SUSI and, having received the approval of Government to undertake this, we are now moving to consult with stakeholders,” he remarked.
Minister Harris added that the aim of the consultation was to consider the current challenges facing students and to find out what his department could do better.
“The review’s terms of reference include examining the value of the maintenance grants and income thresholds, the availability of grants for part-time students, adjacent and non-adjacent rates, supports for post-graduates and how Ireland compares against other jurisdictions.
“The review will report back to me this summer and will help inform decisions in the context of Budget 2022. In the meantime, we want to hear from you, and I am delighted to be joining Senator Aisling Dolan at an online event she has organised to seek the feedback of her constituents on this important priority for Fine Gael,” he concluded.
Senator Dolan encouraged all parents and students to attend the meeting on Zoom.
“All are welcome, parents and students and especially if you are a Fifth Year or Leaving Certificate student or first/ second year in college. There is also an option to dial in if it is difficult to access wi-fi,” she clarified.