Written answers

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Third Level Education

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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492. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of widening access to student assistance fund supports for students that have exceeded four years of their PhD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29298/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial assistance to students experiencing financial difficulties while attending third level.  Students can be assisted towards costs such as rent, childcare costs, transport costs and books/class materials. Students on full or part-time courses leading to a higher education award (NQF level 6-10) in the universities, institutes of technology and other approved colleges can apply for the SAF. The core allocation for the SAF is €9.1 million per annum which supports circa 14,000 students.  This includes €1 million which was added to the fund in 2017 for part-time students who are lone parents or members of the other access target groups. As part of the package of COVID supports provided by Government last year, €10 million was allocated to an Access Funding package of which €8.1 million was allocated to the Student Assistance Fund. This brought the 2020 SAF allocation to €18.2 million

In all cases, HEIs are responsible for targeting the available resources at those students most in need.

PhD students are eligible to apply for the SAF during the first four years of their studies.  PhD students who have completed four years of their studies may also be considered eligible for support on a case-by-case basis.

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