Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Monday, 26 April 2021

Seanad Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

Responses to Brexit in Further and Higher Education: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Photo of Niall Ó DonnghaileNiall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Fein)
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I will begin by apologising. I was extremely delayed coming to this meeting. Committee Stage of the Criminal Procedure Bill was in the Seanad and we were dealing with many amendments, restricting me to the Seanad Chamber.

I am sure colleagues have already done so, but I welcome the Minister and thank him for engaging with us on these issues. I am not alone, but he will understand that I have a particular interest in them and was keen to have him attend. Since I do not expect him to hold the entire meeting for me again, I will be concise and be sure to read back over the exchanges thus far.

The Minister will know that students from the North encountered several problems in recent months when acquiring SUSI grants. The problems seemed bureaucratic, for example, the requirement for PPS numbers, which they obviously did not initially have when applying. I wish to alert the Minister to this issue again so that it can be tidied up as we move along.

Regarding what students in the North can avail of under the Erasmus scheme, is a plan in place, or does the Minister envisage there being a plan, to inform them of how to get into schools and secondary level education and to tell them that the scheme is available to them? The Brexit experience has been particularly depressing for young people in a general political sense but also in terms of the entitlements and rights that they have lost. Here is an entitlement that they have maintained, which is welcome. What plans are in place? Is there a marketing or communications strategy that will let citizens and others in the North know about this scheme, for example, parents and guardians who can direct their children towards it?

Those are my two questions at this stage.

I will be sure to read over the debate and if there is anything further, I will engage with the Minister's office on that going forward.