Written answers

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Third Level Education

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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465. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason students from Ballyfermot College of Further Education that have spent two years on a higher national diploma advanced production and design course and want to continue onto a BA hons visual media (game design) are not eligible for the SUSI grant in order to undertake the degree course (details supplied); and if the anomaly will be addressed. [27906/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I wish to advise the Deputy that the college to which he refers, is an approved Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) centre which is managed and funded by City of Dublin ETB. Post Leaving Certificate Centres provide further education courses up to Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). However, my Department has facilitated the provision of a visual media course accredited by the University of Dundee, as the equivalent of a Level 8 on the NFQ for a number of years and continues to do so as an exceptional measure.

Section 7 of the Student Support Act, 2011 outlines the position with regard to approved institutions for the purposes of student grants.

This particular PLC college is comprehended within Section 7(1)(d) of the Act as an education institution in the State in receipt of grants out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas for the provision of post-leaving certificate courses. Further education centres are not designated as approved third level institutions for the purposes of the student grant scheme.

I understand that prospective students are informed of the absence of grant support for the degree courses before they apply for places and through the college website.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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466. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider extending the SUSI grant scheme to include online and part-time higher education courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27928/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government contains commitments to, among other things, review SUSI eligibility criteria, adjacency rates and postgraduate grant supports. On foot of these commitments I gave approval to commence a review of the Student Grant Scheme.

A Steering Committee has been established to provide direction for the external consultants undertaking the review. Its membership includes: the Union of Students of Ireland; Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), SOLAS, the HEA; Irish University Association (IUA); Technological Higher Education Association (THEA); Technological University Dublin (TUD), the Department of Social Protection and officials from my Department.

The public consultation process closed a few weeks ago with over 250 submissions received. The views of students were sought via an online survey process and over 8,500 survey responses have been received. The survey process is now closed and the consultants will now commence their analysis of the rich data captured in the surveys.

While I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the review, it is anticipated that the review will be completed later this year and will inform future considerations regarding the development of student grant policy.


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