Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Student Universal Support Ireland
Since taking up office I have made three changes to SUSI. The first was the €250 payment. The second was the change to postgraduate supports, both to the level of grant and the level of income allowed. The third, and perhaps most important, was the change to the student support scheme for people in asylum. Only five people in asylum were able to access financial support last year but this year there are 25 such people accessing support, with 29 more potentially valid applications being assessed as we speak.
I agree with the Deputy's comments on mature students. The three areas that I would like to see action on in the SUSI review, while not wanting to pre-empt it, are mature students, part-time learners and costs. I am frustrated that the SUSI system does not understand costs and only understands income. An applicant could be a single parent with a certain amount of income but he or she could have childcare costs. Indeed, couples can also have significant childcare costs. The system has served us well in many ways but it is a bit outdated. It needs to be updated and I will take on board the points made by Deputy Conway-Walsh. There will be an opportunity for the Deputy and all stakeholders to consult and give their views, which will be given the most serious consideration.