Written answers

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Department of Education and Science

Higher Education Grants

12:00 pm

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Question 56: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 50 students are dropping out each week due to delays in grant payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44150/09]

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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It is not possible to assess the scale of drop out in the current year on the basis of data currently available to my Department and the Higher Education Authority. However, the issue of student retention is a priority issue for me and it is an issue that will increase in importance in light of the recent increases in student enrolments in the last two years.

In light of my prioritisation of retention, the Higher Education Authority are currently researching this issue. Improvements in the quality of administrative data due to the development of the Student Record System since 2004 are underpinning this new analysis of retention, progression and completion, which will be available early in 2010.

The process of assessing eligibility for third level grants and the organisation, management and payment of student grants are matters for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies seek to ensure students get decisions on their grant applications and are paid as soon as possible.

The terms of the Higher Education Grants Scheme and the Vocational Education Committees' Scholarship Scheme for the 2009/10 academic year provide for the payment by the Local Authorities/VEC's of each maintenance grant in three equal instalments as early as possible in each term.

Students and parents should ensure that all necessary supporting documentation is provided at the earliest date to assist the awarding bodies to make prompt decisions on entitlement.

The Higher Education Authority on my behalf have requested institutions to be flexible in respect of the payment of the student services charge for those still awaiting a decision on their grant application.


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