Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Student Unions

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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394. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a student union food bank (details supplied) running out of food for students due to over demand in less than an hour. [49864/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Significant additional Funding has been made available to support students under recent budgets and through the Return to Education Packages for 2020 and 2021. The principal support provided by my Department in financial terms is the Student Grant Scheme. The budgetary provision for the Student Grant Scheme in 2021 is €364.5m. The Student Grant Scheme provides grant assistance to eligible students attending an approved full-time course in an approved further or higher educational institution who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria of the relevant scheme.

The Programme for Government contains commitments to review SUSI eligibility criteria, adjacency rates and postgraduate grant supports and a review of the Student Grant Scheme commenced in March of this year. As part of the overall funding secured for the third level sector to safely reopen in September 2021, an additional €10m is available for the 2021/2022 academic year, providing a doubling of the core Student Assistance Fund bringing the total funding to €17.2m. The Covid Contingency Fund for Access Services of €1.9m has also being continued for a further year. UCC along has been allocated over €1 million from the Student Assistance Fund. The HEA has also been engaging with UCC on this matter and have been assured it is working with students to ensure it is responsive to their needs including establishing their own hardship funding. I spoke with the UCC Student Unions last week too and will meet them again shortly.

In the context of Budget 2022 I am currently giving consideration to the scope, to commence the process of making prioritised improvements to the student grant scheme for the academic year 2022/2023. This would allow early progress in addressing key themes emerging from the Review's consultations and research and recent trends in the cost of living.

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