Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Education and Skills
Higher Education Grants
John O'Mahony (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Question 198: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the date on which the centralised office for higher education grants will be in place; the location of same; when it will come into operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7642/12]
Ruairi Quinn (Minister, Department of Education and Skills; Dublin South East, Labour)
Plans are well underway to replace the 66 existing student grant awarding bodies with one single grant awarding authority. I have appointed the City of Dublin VEC to operate the centralised authority commencing operation for all new grant applicants for the 2012/13 academic year and implementation arrangements are well advanced for this purpose. The office will be located in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, adjacent to the headquarters of City of Dublin VEC.
It is intended that the new grant awarding authority will accept all new student grant applications from the 2012/13 academic year onwards. The existing 66 grant awarding bodies will continue to deal with the renewal of applications for their existing grant-holders for the duration of their current courses. This will wind down the involvement of the existing grant awarding bodies in the student grants function over a three to four year period.
I am sure the Deputy will agree that this is a positive example of genuine public sector reform. The establishment of the single student grant awarding authority will provide for fundamental reform of the student grants system and represents a concrete development in meeting the objectives set out in the action plan for the education sector on the Croke Park Agreement. I believe it will ensure a better level of customer service for all those who use the student grant system.