Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Education and Skills
Student Grant Scheme
521. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if there are proposals to increase postgraduate grants to address the funding gap as outlined in the Programme for Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18819/20]
524. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed review of SUSI eligibility as proposed in the Programme for Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18823/20]
The programme for Government was published last month. It creates a vision for reform and renewal that can help Ireland recover and thrive and sets out a vision for the transformation of our country over the next five years. Our higher and further education sector will play a key role in our recovery. In this regard, it is vital that we invest in our further and higher education sectors and we ensure that access to educational opportunities are available to all members of society.
The eligibility criteria for student grants are reviewed annually by my Department and approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. All proposals made in relation to higher education expenditure, including student grants for the 2021/22 academic year, will be considered in the context of Budget 2021.
However, I would like to re-assure the Deputy that I am conscious of the difficulties being experienced by students and their families as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and of the importance of the Student Grant Scheme and related supports, such as the Student Assistance Fund and the Fund for Students with Disabilities. These supports have a fundamental role in assisting families who are putting their children through further and higher education.
The Deputy will be aware that I recently secured a financial support package for the further and higher education sector which is aimed at addressed Covid-19 impacts and facilitating the reopening plans for the sector. The support package will provide €168m in supports including €28m in supports for students for IT equipment, access measures and mental health and wellbeing.