[Sinn Fein]

20th September 2002

Grant Process a Shambles

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education, Seán Crowe TD has criticised the shambolic mishandling of this year's grant application process by the Department of Education.

The Dublin South-West TD said: ``Because of the delays in the issuing of grant application forms by the Department of Education to the local VECs thousands of students across the state are still waiting on a response regarding their application for grant support in order to attend university. The entire grant system has been exposed as a shambles.

Students receiving a grant do not have to pay the exorbitant registration fee. With students registering at many universities in the next few weeks those eligible for a grant will be forced to pay the registration fee or be denied access to student services.

If colleges absolutely insist on every student who does not have a grant form paying the increased fee then this could cause serious financial hardship to the lower-income families involved, particularly given the fact that the payment of the first instalment of the grants are usually late, and will probably be even later this year.

It is my understanding that some universities have adopted a policy of issuing temporary student ID to those waiting for a response on their grant applications. I would ask other third level institutions to adopt these procedures to handle this problem. The students should not be the ones to suffer because of the inadequacies of the Department.''

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