Written answers

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Third Level Education

Photo of Verona MurphyVerona Murphy (Wexford, Independent)
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155. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the provisions that his Department has in place for the increase of dentistry places and courses; when additional funding for the expansion of Irish dental schools will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25059/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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There is no quota placed on dental courses by my Department, and therefore the places offered are a matter for the higher education institutions, in line with their autonomy. However due to the high level of practical work involved there are material constraints on the number of students that can be accepted onto dentistry courses.

My Department is strongly committed to supporting the health of the population through the provision of graduates with the key competencies and skills to be effective in the health workforce, and support a range of clinical teams in our health services.

The Programme for Government commits the Department of Health to working with the education sectors, regulators, and professional bodies to improve the availability of health professionals and reform their training to support integrated care across the entire health service.

My officials are actively engaging with the Department of Health on determining the longer term skills needs of the healthcare services, and the role which the further and higher education sector can play in meeting those skills needs. I will ensure that there is continued engagement with all stakeholders to ensure that we deliver graduates with the skills necessary to support our healthcare system and support the strategic workforce planning by the health sector.

In relation to funding for the expansion of dental schools, in February I announced a second call under the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) for applications for major HE capital projects. The prioritisation of projects is a matter for each higher education institution and it is open to UCC or TCD to submit an application for expansion of their dental schools.

Photo of Kathleen FunchionKathleen Funchion (Carlow-Kilkenny, Sinn Fein)
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156. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the decision by SUSI to not award a grant to a person (details supplied) to continue their studies at a third-level institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25064/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by an appeals officer in SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe (i.e. not later than 30 days after the notification of the determination of the appeals officer to the applicant). Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie.

SUSI, the grant awarding authority, has advised that the student in question has made no grant application for the academic year 2022/23. SUSI’s online application process for student grant applications for the 2022/23 academic year opened on 10thMarch 2022 for renewals and on 28thApril 2022 for all new applications. The priority closing dates are Thursday 9 June 2022 for grant renewal applications and Thursday 7 July 2022 for new grant applications.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student’s local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.

As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications. Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.


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