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SUSI Student Grants failure

category national | education | press release author Thursday November 08, 2012 23:06author by Wayne Flanagan Tobin - Professional Youth Worker / Communitarianauthor email tobinwr at tcd dot ie Report this post to the editors

Online System fails

Wayne Flanagan Tobin, former Youth Information Officer at Bray youth Service (Sept 2011-Sept 2012) has strongly critised SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), a unit of CDVEC (County Dublin VEC) for delays in the Student Grants for 2012 which is forcing students to quit college. He has strongly critisized SUSI for holding secret meetings with Citizens' Information Officers and not relying information to Youth Centres and Youth Organisations . More information should have been available regarding the Documentary evidence Pack from CIC's.

Wayne Flanagan Tobin, former Youth Information Officer at Bray youth Service (Sept 2011-Sept 2012) has strongly critised SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), a unit of CDVEC (County Dublin VEC) for delays in the Student Grants for 2012 which is forcing students to quit college and cause a sense of stress. He has strongly critisized SUSI for holding secret briefings with Citizens' Information Officers and not relying information to Youth Centres and Youth Organisations who he claims were duped by CDVEC.

Speaking this week the former local election candidate and TCD Graduate outlined the situation:

"Tradionally county councils would deal with Student Grants but this year a new online system was set up to apparently speed up the grant application process but the exact opposite has happened. Only a few grants have been processed and hundreds of students face the prospect of being forced from full-time education. Susi's website studentfinance.ie has still not been updated to inform students of these delays. Students are being left in the dark and this is unacceptable."

Flanagan Tobin slammed SUSI for blaming students on the delays and said the real reason is because SUSI are short staffed:

"SUSI / CDVEC do not have the staff to manage this system. It should be done locally and this is an example of a system which should not be centralised. What is most insulting to students is the fact that SUSI are blaming students for the delays when SUSI themselves did not inform students of the required documents in advance of the grant website. Instead they sent out their hogwash brainchild 'documentary evidence pact' leading to more confusion"

Wayne continued:

"This confusion was compacted by the fact SUSI did not liase more with the National Youth Information Organisations. YIC's should have demanded more information. We should be honest with young people and this whole issue of hiding information from Young People is bizzare. Such "Youth" Services should demand information-especially given the current climate obviously finance and grants will be an issue.

On the cover-up by Citizens' Information Wayne Flanagan Tobin said:

"Citizens Information Officers had secret meetings and briefings with SUSI. I discovered this by a mistake when I realized the SUSI helpline number and citizens Information number started with 0761". When I questioned this I was told that SUSI would meet all Information Officers in July but this never happened and today we have young people being blamed for the delays. SUSI has failed and young people deserve to be treated better."

Flanagan-Tobin continued:

"This cronyism must be exposed and students should not be blamed for a pilot scheme which has ended in chaos. Today on Radio One the Education Minister tried to blame students which demonstrates his own lack of understanding of the whole fiasco".

ENDS 08/11/12

Further information Wayne Flanagan Tobin: tobinwr@tcd.ie

Related Link: http://www.studentfinance.ie
author by Beckypublication date Sat Nov 10, 2012 22:58Report this post to the editors

No help, no support, no information and no-one understands.

author by Father of the Bridepublication date Mon Nov 12, 2012 17:20Report this post to the editors

Citizens information should come clean on this link now. More cronyism. My own kids were victims of this.

author by Sarah James - nonepublication date Tue Nov 13, 2012 00:13Report this post to the editors

SUSI is a disgrace but conspiracy theories about CI are just plain daft.

SUSI had a few meetings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So what

author by Wayne Flanagan Tobin - Planet Earthpublication date Tue Nov 13, 2012 19:28Report this post to the editors

Dear "Sarah James" ,

Thank you for your comment to the story.

There is nothing daft about youth workers being excluded from the information they need to relay to young people in order to get grants.

Maybe if you pass this on to your colleagues "Sarah James".

author by Creative Coach - Independent Careers Infopublication date Mon Nov 19, 2012 17:48Report this post to the editors

I am incredulous at Wayne's accusation that the CIC were in 'secret meetings' with SUSI. The 0761 numbers are toll free numbers that can be used by any organisation to reduce costs for their callers. Citizens Information have one in association with the Money Advice Bureau, and SUSI use one for their callers. It is nothing short of ignorance to draw the conclusion that the two organisations are conspiring.

You would want to get your facts right before making such outlandish statements Wayne.

author by Wayne Flanagan Tobinpublication date Tue Nov 20, 2012 18:10Report this post to the editors

Unfortunately, the facts are right and no solicitors letter to add to the CV will be coimng to be on this occasion.

CICs got briefings on how to assist students while youth organisations did not (FACT) . If youth organisations were given the information or allowed to attend the quasi-private seminar which secretly took place in Tallaght, more information could have been given to young people. A lot of young people have been in touch with me and are confused. Itseems the truth may in fact be "outlandish" ...

Of course a conclusion can't be drawn from the number 0761-I mentioned this as this is what LED to my overall discovery of 'secret' briefings. Having worked in Dun Laoighre MABS, I am only too aware of the numbers but my conclusions are not drawn from this, they are drawn from actual meetings that took place exclusively for CIC's. This makes the assupmption that CIC is the only organisation that gets grant queries! It is youth centres and youth organisations where young people would fill out the online form as CIC's do not have an internet use area for young people or the time to give to parents/young people on this issue alone due to the high volumes of other queries they get.

Your 'independent' work obviously never brought you into communities where major interventions of help and information are required...

author by Patrick Byrne - Studentpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2012 14:54Report this post to the editors

Agree with the article from Flangan Tobin coz went to reception in me college today and they had not got a clue. Also me family couldn't understand the evidence pack and no help or support. The chap is right on this.

author by Student - Nonepublication date Sat Dec 01, 2012 03:06Report this post to the editors

Students of today are expected to become leaders of their chosen subjects Tomorrow , Students will not study under duress & should be encouraged by those who need perfection , there fore less stress = success ;

author by Creative Mud - Ba Humbugpublication date Wed Dec 19, 2012 21:11Report this post to the editors

Just saw the RTE news and turns out this activist is actually right.

author by Forster - Educationpublication date Thu Dec 20, 2012 15:55Report this post to the editors

It may sound crazy but if SUSI centralised is in bureaucratic chaos and can't pay students, surely some entity like Google, Starbucks, the banks, can provide a loan to Susi - after all the money has to be paid to the students in the New Year. We need Corporate Social Responsibility in Ireland and let them start with ensuring our students have no worries for the Christmas.

Yesterday, it was said one of these large entities received £1 billion in Ireland but only paid £3 m in tax. Something similar happened in the UK with Starbucks and they were humbled to the degree that they gave the Robin Hood account a large payment. Let them do something similar in Ireland and start with Susi.

Students deserve support - they are the future of this country

author by Elf - Insiderpublication date Tue Dec 25, 2012 23:03Report this post to the editors

You could not swing a cat in the SUSI office-there would be no room for the staff he wants so this man is right even though the lame-stream media won't carry his story..!

author by Forster - Grantspublication date Fri Dec 28, 2012 15:10Report this post to the editors

Elf

If your sources are right and the space allocated to SUSI so small, it sounds as if students and their grants are about hit and miss. Pay some now, pay some later and hope that others will just forget about their applications or drop out of college.

It is this kind of slap happy waste that our government departments continue with. When can we expect efficiency, the kind that results in effectiveness. There are no excuses for delay. Grants are part and parcel of third level education in Ireland now for decades. A change of computerised system, staffing and even to a new location is no excuse. An space location too small though is a bit much when we are inundated with Namatised properties and empty buildings. Add to this the impact onto the rental sector for housing and then we know there is no synchronised thinking from our public sector.

Space is not a problem for Government where the private sector are hammered by excessive upward rents and rates. Government and space allocation is free from rent legislation because it is invariably owned by government and the rumour on the street is these public sector/HSE properties take up lots of space but do not contribute to the excessive rates charges that are stifling businesses in the retail sector and elsewhere, forcing many into liquidation.

Elf. Where are the young people? They too need to keep us informed of how impressed they are with Third Level education. We barely know about the grant debacle. Is their waste at campus level? What are the drop out levels? Why do people drop out? How do you think you can add to making our education system cost effective. Opinions should come from grassroot level too.

Education is core to regaining economic growth in Ireland. The educational infrastructure exists, it just needs to be expanded to ensure that as many people on the live register have the options to return to education, to upskill and become creators of business opportunities.

2013: The first 6 months Ireland is host to the Presidency of the EU. This is an opportunity that will pass you by with speed but make sure to take time to make it your opportunity. Make sure to visit EU House on Dawson Street, there is lots of information there and no doubt there will be plenty of activities and talks during the visit.

These EU merchants will be visiting and there is an Irish well orchestrated initiative .... those bikes you see around our city will provide free usage to the Europeans who visit.....take the opportunity to communicate with our fellow European citizens and hear what they really think of the Irish over there in the Ivory Tower of Gravy Train Europe, the one that is so shy on audits. I was speaking to a German woman yesterday, the view they have of the Irish is a lot better than the view they have of the Greeks who they deem to be most unpredictable.

Grants should arrive on time. Education is a stressor, exams, assignments, study and working, people living in bedsits, need no stress from the bureaucracy of the public sector.

author by Forster - SUSIpublication date Wed Jan 02, 2013 14:22Report this post to the editors

Did SUSI mayhem sort out before Christmas and the students get their grants?

Indymedia is a great source for students to have their voices heard and I am interested to hear if the grants were paid or not.

author by Interested - Grants and Educationpublication date Mon Jan 07, 2013 14:36Report this post to the editors

2013 and all the best of luck, it is needed no doubt.

Did the Government manage to pay the grants to students?

author by Student Parentpublication date Mon Jan 07, 2013 16:06Report this post to the editors

I'm a parent of a student studying abroad (Erasmus) and it has been nail-biting so far. Last year's grant came through just before her end of year exams! She has been living hand to mouth since October. We've given her every penny we can - thinking she'd squeeze through if the grant came before Christmas but it hasn't. She's gone back to where she's studying after Christmas - and we're now watching the last pennies we have disappear in the hope it will come through this month. Otherwise all her hard work will have been for nothing - she will have to quit, there's nothing more we can do. Heartbreaking, after all the years of educational effort.

My husband is unemployed through no fault of his own and looking for work - is planning to go to UK to see if he can find work there, me full-time carer of child with disability - carers grant suddenly completely withdrawn after 16 years by a faceless administrator who never even met him - apparently our son is no longer disabled and all those doctors, neurologists, psychologists, phyios and speech therapists didn't know what they were talking about. He's also been effectively thrown out of the education system after Ruairi Quinn's department slashed 75% of his SNA support - we had to homeschool him. We gave our daughter our desperately needed respite care grant in the hope it would tide her over until the student grant came through. We won't be getting that again because it too is withdrawn if you're not in receipt of carer's allowance. There's nothing else we can do for her.

I'm just wondering what else this government would like to do to us before they are finished. Perhaps all this is a way of inviting us to commit suicide - of letting us know what worthless human beings we are? This government hates poor people. We used to complain about Mary Harney but Joan Burton makes Harney seem like Mother Theresa.

I saw a letter in a newspaper today that said we're all being too angry at politicians.

author by Tpublication date Mon Jan 07, 2013 23:09Report this post to the editors

Of course they are deliberate delays. This govt like all the other govts does not serve the people. They are beholden to the financial elite. What is happening to you and 100s of 1000s of other people in this country and millions in Europe is known as the Class War. Of course they don't call it that but the goals are clear and they are to strip away every single form of social net that has ever been erected and to hell with the people. Our social destination is back to Dickinson times. The current crop of politicians are the technocrats of the financial elite who will take us there.

There are probably two main reasons why this is happening and they are: 1). The big pie from which we all eat is shrinking. The extreme wealthy (there are 1226 billionaires in the world) who are largely faceless and nameless -say the richest 6,000 or so in the world, have always got the biggest slice of this pie and even though it is shrinking they want to keep theirs the same size. That means everyone else has to do with less.

2) the second reason which partially explains the first, is now that the World has reached and passed Peak Oil, the era of cheap energy is over. The availability of cheap energy has been directly correlated with economic growth for the past 200 years. Cheap energy has allowed for the easy extraction of all types of resources and as cheap energy goes away so do those resources. For example cheap apples from New Zealand are no longer cheap and eventually stop arriving. However this extends to every aspect of economic life and the net effect is that we have peaked on every thing. Economic growth is over. One of the consequences of this is that there will be not enough growth left in the system to increase the "wealth" that is needed to pay off the global debt. It is likely the big players know all this and so they are busy swapping their worthless paper wealth into real assets like property and other tangible things. The wave of privatisation is a form of robbing from the public and turning these things into income streams for the owners.

The only way things can improve is for people to realize what is happening at the big picture level and then come together and have a revolution and change the structure of society so that collectively more is shared and that way there will be more to go around for everyone.

The trouble is that the real nameless power-brokers are probably aware of this too and that is why police forces have generally been increasingly militarized -more so in some countries -around the world in the past few decades. The police state was not built for nothing and it can easily handle any back reaction by the few people who manage to break out of the celebrity/trivia propaganda media bubble that most people live in.

I hope that helps place things in context for you.

author by Chestnut - Grants publication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 15:50Report this post to the editors

Yes T. The greater the inequality and two tierism, and our reliance on oil spells a disaster going forward for what will be more easily identifiable in Ireland as the new underclass.

Who would ever have envisaged the necessity of soup kitchens in our Universities? If the news is to be believed, Ireland's academics have been prompted to put their hands in their pockets to contribute to the feeding of their students who rely on the State for grants, those grants that are so mired in bureaucratic paperwork. Why? Is the world not going digital? It seems incredible that we have a generation going through second level education who are computer literate being forced into a backward system of data compilation and evidencial proof because of an under educated tier of public servants who appear not to be up-to-date in the capacities of computers to streamline requirements to provide grants for our students on time.

T. It is a pity that we cannot get a good site up and running by our third level students to keep citizen journalism alert to the shortcomings in our third level education system. Academia, public servants are still paid lots, in jobs for life, with pensions and sick pay. This is the creation of the two tierism that will ultimately change the face of people who inhabit our shores to 'us and them' but with an even greater divide.

Just take time to look at what 'underclass' really means in America. We could be following in the same direction.

author by Student - Student Union at Collegepublication date Wed Jan 16, 2013 03:52Report this post to the editors

Lack of information from information services. Agree with all said in the above article and the latest few comments. SHAME ON THE LABOUR PARTY.

author by Chestnut - Student Grantspublication date Wed Jan 16, 2013 13:36Report this post to the editors

Student

Not alone is their a shortage of information but there is little talk in the media about what is actually happening with student grants. By now students are back in college and it would benefit the media to know if grants are still outstanding and for how many. This is now second term and pressure adds up for assignments and exams. A bureaucratic system of administration for grants to students is unacceptable. The sleeping dog rests but if too many slights and plights are placed upon him he will fight his corner. Education is essential to the progress of Ireland and we need to alleviate students from un-necessary stressors and having to attend on site soup kitchens.

author by Comyn - Educationpublication date Tue Jan 22, 2013 15:47Report this post to the editors

Susi seems to have faltered in its duty to provide the grants necessary for students to attend Third Level Education. Now 22nd January and one wonders who out there is really suffering and if there are students deciding to quit college. The Minister for Education, Mr Ruairi Quinn evidently grasps the problems encountered by the Student Assistance Fund and has allocated a further £3 million. The SUSI fund is estimated to assist in the region of 16,000 students this year. It is important to note that there is a much higher number of students looking to avail of the Fund this year.

SUSI is the new authority that awards grants. Grants which should have been paid before Christmas are still not processed and therefore cannot be paid. This is heinous and one can only ask why this new authority failed. In other years there were a variety of sources to assist people at University (societies or partnerships), this year it is only SUSI and its failure as left certain students experiencing a poverty that is unacceptable.

All registered full-time (under graduate/post graduate students) who attend an approved third level course are eligible to apply. Okay more people than expected have made applications but the responsibility rests with SUSI to process the work that ensures the payment to those who need same. Food parcels is condescending and surely could be avoided if the necessary over-time was put in place by SUSI to complete the necessary work.

author by Chestnut - SUSI grants due before Christmaspublication date Sat Jan 26, 2013 15:14Report this post to the editors

Media is silent but whatsmore so are students.

Are the grants paid? Does SUSI respond to the needs of students for their day to day expenditure needs while at third level education?

author by Comyn - Third Level Educationpublication date Thu Jan 31, 2013 14:31Report this post to the editors

Can we assume all students are paid their grants by now? and if not, why the silence? No doubt this hurdle of trying to get the grants involves people who decide not to go ahead with third level and this is a shame especially in the present lack of jos opportunity climate.

The IMF were back in town before Christmas and they have come up with an idea that all students need to acquaint themselves with: They propose an affordable loan scheme for those in tertiary education could help our Exchequer to make significant savings. Their proposal is for within the next 2 years. This is their request to the Government of Ireland to make "deeper reforms" as part of our Bailout conundrum. The IMF reports states that "an affordable loan scheme for tertiary education to enable rising demand to be met at a reasonable cost".

They say this has surprised the Government but surely this is somewhat naive if one considers that the UK fees for undergraduate courses start now at £9,000 pa. Also, the OECD raised the issue of loans for third level back in 2004. It is interesting to note that the HEA in 2012 commenced a study re third level funding for the Miniister of Education and the results are due mid 2013. Our own ESRI reported that our expenditure for higher education is well above comparator countries and was "in stark contrast to countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and UK". Grants are only part of the journey for students and SUSI may be insufficiently staffed because it is only a temporary vehicle as the system for funding education changes in line with the demands of the IMF.

The report does not detail whether the loan would in fact cover fees or the maintenance and fees grant that is available to studends from lower-income 'families'. It is worth engaging with how tertiary education will be funded and having a say.

Comyn

author by Student Parentpublication date Fri Feb 01, 2013 16:30Report this post to the editors

I posted earlier. Part of our daughter's grant has now been paid but not sure when the rest is coming through - apparently sometime in late March. This is crazy - most of the academic year spent in anxiety about whether or not you can even continue, unable to afford basics. Plain cruelty. Education one more privilege being reserved for the rich.

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Sat Feb 02, 2013 15:46Report this post to the editors

Ireland had an interlude of free education but those days will soon be forgotten if the IMF drives home their plan of student loans for third level education and within the next 2 years.

What we can learn is that if the Government comply with making changes that they at least stand accountable to provide the services that students need to benefit from third level education - it is after all a contract for the benefit of our society that we engage in the provision of third level education.

To the parent of the student who has written on this posting, I endorse your comment "Plain Cruelty". I am surprised that students remain so quiet about this massive injustice and endorsement of those who have financially versus those who rely for State assistance. To leave students short of money, stressed, anxiety laden, vulnerable to landlords, living in cars, juggling jobs, getting a donation of a meal or a food package is not about character building and resilience. It is totally unacceptable.

Policy change dictates that mergers and acquisitions are necessary in public service to create units that will be more efficient and effective. What has happened to Susi? The CAO determine in early January of the year of entry who wants to apply for which university/college and what courses. By August, the results are out and between then and October students have made their choice and are ready to commence in third level education.

It is now February 2nd and there are still students who have only received part of the grant and no doubt some are still awaiting payment. Is this equitable? University is about education but it is not necessary to burden education with forfeiture of basic human rights that state a student is eligible for a grant because they need assistance with food, accommodation and day to day expenditure. If one acknowledges this, then surely the state has an obligation to ensure they abide and provide for their side of the contract. How many students faced with the stress associated with non grant payment, or late payment, and add to this the stress of starting a third level degree programme, will be forced to give up college.

Today's Irish Times article by Rosita Boland is worth reading. She chronicles the hardships of certain students in GMIT's Galway campus and the truth is this is not fair and does not provide equality of access and opportunity.

SUSI was introduced last launched in June 2012. It was heralded as an example of public-service reform"
by the Minister of Education Mr Ruairi Quinn. It is about the pulling together of strands...those 33 VEC's and 33 local councils who used to be responsible for the grant system. We know the objective of staff reduction is core and levels fell from 170 to 65 and that savings of £5m would result but the evidence now is that estimates are radically wrong or maybe it is about looking at the 65,000 grant applications and hoping to squeeze out those who are vulnerable from the start as part of their policy programme based on austerity rules.

According to the Times - on Wednesday more than 30,000 student grant-applications had been approved, and payment made on more than 28,000 of those. Forgive me if I am wrong but I thought these payments were due early October, then before Christmas and now it appears to be sometime in February and going forward....

Students need to be heard. Free fees apply to all rich and poor but if your parents provide you with the funds and accommodation to go to college and the State undertakes to pay the grants on behalf of those who qualify then it is only fair to assume 'equality applies'.

Comyn

author by Observer - Former Student Trinity College Dublinpublication date Tue Feb 05, 2013 15:05Report this post to the editors

Prompted by Mr David Norris speaking in the senate about certain school children whose parents could not pay the fees for bus rides to school who were earmarked and left standing on the road. Shame on us.

This is bias. This is damaging. This is bullying.

Negotiate the debt down is what I say to Government. Ireland is an Island - stop the nonsense that the powers that be don't want to make a precedent. Iceland is now considering saying no to the EU. We can learn from this. Our waters are about potential reserves which could be real wealth to Ireland like happened in Norway.

Students need to be heard. You are the now but also the future. Do you want debt in your name before you earn a day's pay!

Observer

author by Chestnut - Students publication date Thu Feb 07, 2013 13:23Report this post to the editors

Some students have not received their grants and yet the voice of their fellow students is hushed?

Are this generation of young people dosed by Celtic Tigeritis and show no compassion to the plight of their fellow students?

I hope competitive advantage is not so entrenched!

Where are Trinity UCD DCU Galway Univeristy Limerick University ITT's

Citizen journalism counts. Engage

Chestnut

author by Chestnut - Students publication date Thu Feb 07, 2013 13:23Report this post to the editors

Some students have not received their grants and yet the voice of their fellow students is hushed?

Are this generation of young people dosed by Celtic Tigeritis and show no compassion to the plight of their fellow students?

I hope competitive advantage is not so entrenched!

Where are Trinity UCD DCU Galway Univeristy Limerick University ITT's

Citizen journalism counts. Engage

Chestnut

author by Comyn - Observerpublication date Sun Feb 10, 2013 13:39Report this post to the editors

Students - did anyone turn up for the march yesterday?

Third level education is an important means of avoiding the rigours of the recessions through periods of near indefinite unemployment. If the grants aren't paid on time, if fees are raised to the same £9,000 that applies now in the UK, many people will be unable to attend university, which is a backward move from the free education introduced in the 1990's. Already the registration fee is nearly 3,000 and rising each year.

Again, are there any students engaging with Indymedia to keep us informed about SUSI the grants?

author by Chestnut - Observerpublication date Mon Feb 11, 2013 15:00Report this post to the editors

Todays Herald yields another blow for students. Those who fail to pay the £2,500 charge are now going to be tracked by debt collectors, and these are a breed out onto their own. University of Limerick have retained debt collectors and the fees to these contractors are £200,000 so there is most definitely money due for collection.

Has anyone a view? This now includes those who don't get grants! Let there be some equality of opportunity!

Chestnut

author by UCD Fresher - USIpublication date Wed Feb 13, 2013 20:01Report this post to the editors

The Debt Collectors you mention are already harassing those of us in Dublin so it is all getting to much. SUSI caused many people to drop out during our first term.

author by Comyn - Observerpublication date Fri Feb 15, 2013 15:11Report this post to the editors

UCD Fresher - USI

Thanks for the response. It makes sense that people who failed to get their grants via SUSI could possibly have dropped out of third level education and hence the dis-interest by the media in highlighting the plight of bureaucracy led methods of squeezing people out of the education net.

Freedom of expression is essential and if debt collectors are now used by the Universities and Colleges to force students to pay their debts, this is surely another form of abuse of power and a method so inequitable that more will be blinded from the importance of education. Honour, code of conduct should be part of the academic syllabus and payment from students ought to be paid with due diligence and a listening ear when exceptions have to be made. Next we will hear that where debt collectors fail, our students who fail to pay will be in Stubbs Gazette. What a hostile move to make people pay their fees, especially when they evidently have studied with dedication to get a place in the university/college.

Provosts need to listen to their students and need to answer questions about drop-out rates in their Universities. This is cost benefit analysis in the making.
Comyn

author by Chestnut - Observerpublication date Tue Feb 19, 2013 15:31Report this post to the editors

Students must be very busy with assignments and studying these days.

There is not a word in the media as to whether SUSI became effective in paying out grants to students. We should be asking ourselves about what the message is given the 'silence'.

Add to this the confirmation in a small piece in the Sunday newspapers that debt collectors are working on behalf of three colleges to collect those 'registration fees' approx £2,500.

We need to be asking who is being bullied out of our third level colleges and at what cost to our society.

People study and work hard to get to third level. Education is a passport in these times of economic recession to a future if not in Ireland, at least abroad. We should not stifle people who are eligible for grants or who are having problem paying the fees, it is just being short-sighted. After all the diaspora were once citizens and we are busy networking presently for support in the homeland.

Did anyone hear the sculptor on RTE 1: Croke Patrick in Mayo, he considers to be the most spectacular place in the world and he wants to place a statue there and he hopes that Irish emigrants in the USA will fund his dream and work!

Students: please let us know if your grants are paid or if you are targeted by debt collectors?

Chestnut

author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:31Report this post to the editors

I have been reading with deep interest the above postings in relation to students, grants and registration fees. I am not up-to-date on what the exact position is: what has been paid by SUSI or what is yet to be paid? Yesterday, when I contacted the students union at UCD I was shocked that they could confirm for me that the administration of universities have hired debt collection agencies to go in unannounced and have names and addresses supplied by the college of the students who are behind in paying their fees.

I will close by saying that Martin Ferris in the Dail a couple of days ago stood up and asked a direct question: Why is Mr Ian Andrews (named changed by deed poll from Leaf to Andrews) operating in Ireland and harassing Irish citizens in a very heavy handed way in relation to debts? Ferris went on to say that this man with his cronies is putting padlocks on dwellings - (on behalf of who)? This man's background is infamous. He served 12 years in an English prison for serious crimes including tax evasion on a grand scale and the rest. This can be easily checked out on Google. For a Sinn Fein man like Ferris to ask this question should wake us all up on who runs and own the debt collection agencies now in our country. The Irish Examiner recently reported on this man so there are no excuses for not knowing his extensive case history. He is also a chartered accountant.

These debt collection agencies are not subject to any Government regulations.

What about this and our students - too harsh an approach, I would think!

Brian Flannery

author by Chestnut - Observerpublication date Wed Feb 27, 2013 14:18Report this post to the editors



Yes, Brian, it is indeed a new dimension to hear that three universities have retained debt collectors to round up those registration fees from students who have failed to pay. What I don't understand is the lack of media coverage and the attitudes of students to this kind of bullying practice.

The fiasco at Christmas concerned the ineffectual SUSI and the fact that certain students were not in fact paid their grants. Again the media is shy and we know through earlier postings that some students were not paid in February. Again, what is the situation now? Are students now in receipt of their full entitlements and if not, they must be highly inconvenienced i.e. if they have not been forced to drop out of college.

Do we know? Do we care? Our exam system is rigorous and those who gain access to university do not need to be put at an economic/social disadvantage to other students. Ireland as we know is about bipolarity these days, but education is about bridging the gap surely. Our unemployed people are up near 450,000, rather than bully students out of third level, we need to excercise due diligence to ensure that once they enter the third level system, they are encouraged to complete their education. There are too few alternatives out there at this moment in time.

Chestnut

author by Comyn - SUSI & Third Level grantspublication date Fri Mar 01, 2013 15:27Report this post to the editors

Well Chestnut SUSI ineffectiveness and delayed grant payments was not being covered by the media but today's papers have taken the lead and both the Irish Times and the Independent are highlighting this scandal.

According to political correspondent, Irish Independent, Fiach Kelly, 'the college grants debacle has worsened as it emerged three out of five grant refusals are being overturned on appeal'.

Shame on a system that is so exploitative of our third level students. People should receive the funding they NEED to effectively engage with third level education, and especially now. If people are to leave our shores again due to emigration, at least let them leave with an education that enables to get suitable employment abroad. They then become a diaspora that can help that small island open economy survive in a global world of trade.

In the Dail last week, the Department of Education faced an Oireachtas Committee. They were asked about the grants and the reply was 90% resolved and ongoing. One delegate from the department told the Dail Committee that their module was Smart School Smart Economy and that education is priority but somebody in the middle of all this is giving the spin of lies. I put it to Ruairi Quinn what is the real truth about the non payment of grants, and the placement of debt collectors on the campuses is nothing other than shocking and disgraceful.

Where are the voices of our students? Do we know how many students have failed at the first hurdle due to no grants? Do we care?

Recently on Bloomberg TV (Charlie Rose) I listened to a person's view on education. It was about Singapore where education is core to its success. Apparently education is assessed there based on its economic's not like other countries who take it based on the political/social aspects. We need to pay heed here.

Cost benefit analysis is essential to education. As said before, students study very hard to get to third level. Mock them not by creating snobbery and an underclass mentality.

Comyn

Maybe someone knows how to add the Independent and Times links for this need to know topic

author by Chestnut - SUSIpublication date Tue Mar 05, 2013 15:13Report this post to the editors

The farmers, their children and eligibility for grants gets great media coverage.

Yet, what about those who struggle to gather together enough to get to University and who are promised first before Christmas and for many still awaiting grants. Why nothing about them.

Add to this the debt collectors on the campuses.

SUSI is about streamlining and nobody has a problem with this. However, to leave people months without their grants is not acceptable. If it was in the private sector, this catastrophe would not have been allowed to happen.

author by O'Malley - Education & Workpublication date Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:37Report this post to the editors

Ireland prides itself on its educated workforce. We attract all the multi national companies to Ireland, not because of our competitive corporate tax rates, the lowest in EU, but because we are so good at education of our students. Well, if you read the Independent today, Pay-Pal boss Louise Phelan is sending out the first of the warning signs. Our students are not clued in to the employment potential and market according to her.

Personally, the inactivity of this citizen journalism site astonishes me. Nobody seems to care about the SUSI fiasco, who has been paid their grants, who has been forced out of Third Level to date.

If we lose out on the education stakes, it won't be long until we are pressured by the Troika to increase our corporation tax rate and then the recession will truly bite.

O'Malley

author by Pseudopublication date Mon Mar 25, 2013 17:30author email dbrip at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I have been wating all year for a grant. Haven't heard a thing from SUSI. Now I am having my exam timetable witheld at the request of the finace office of UCC. I'm a mature student who came back to college in order to progress, and it has been little more to me than a hassle and a waste of time. What a joke.

author by Chestnut - SUSIpublication date Tue Apr 02, 2013 15:16Report this post to the editors

Pseudo

You seem totally disillusioned and rightly so. It is now April and midway through the college year and you are without the grant (as per your posting March 25, 2013) ie the money you need and have been assessed to require in order to study and complete your year in University. How many more people are like you and have had their time table for exam's withheld, as if you are a person to be punished for doing something wrong!

This is negligence on behalf of SUSI and by now the Department of Education should be making provisions for people like you to ensure that they are facilitated and funded so that they can complete their examinations without undue stress and anxiety.

Media is shy about students who are awaiting their grant payments and the question is why? Could it be that many have dropped-out of College and if this is so we should be asking how many and why?

Students are members of Student unions - why are they not represented especially concerning grant entitlements and payment by SUSI - which is a data collection source that needs scrutiny too?

Chestnut

author by Swift - SUSIpublication date Fri Apr 12, 2013 15:39Report this post to the editors

Speaking to a young student who works part-time in Starbucks she tells me lectures are over, it is time to cram in the study and do the exams in May.

As mentioned earlier: In the absence of SUSI providing the grant, the exam time-table and option to sit exams is not available to students who haven't made the payment based on not receiving the grant.

Is this still Live? Are there any students out there who cancelled out of university/college because the failed to get a grant?

Are there any students trying to study but without the grant and they don't know if they will be eligible to sit the exams?

author by Jonathan - SUSI: Grants publication date Fri May 10, 2013 14:52Report this post to the editors

Exam time is just about over. Students: before you fly to the US or Europe for jobs abroad, why not tackle the questions raised about SUSI particularly at Student level about the grants and who received them and who didn't. There is good reason to do so because nearly 50% of the students at college are eligible for the grants and this means you don't want to face the same scenario of teething problems as you have 2012/2013. The number eligible for grants is rising fast as more people lose their jobs and people take up the option to return to third level education.

author by Wayne Flanagan Tobinpublication date Sat Aug 03, 2013 01:05Report this post to the editors


Problems with Student Grant website continue this year

Independent candidate for Pembroke South Dock, Wayne Flanagan Tobin has stated that an improved Student Grant system must be put in place to avoid the problems experienced last year by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) and believes Councils must revert back to issuing the student Grand given the unacceptable delays and problems with SUSI, a unit of CDVEC. This week the SUSI website crashed again showing nothing was done about this since last year...

Speaking this week Mr. Flanagan Tobin said:
“Last year a new system SUSI was set up under the Minister for education and skills but caused major problems for students including delays and website crashes. The whole point of SUSI was to speed up the grant system, but many students did not receive their grants until the end of the college year. During my role as a Youth Information Officer I was aware of students who left many courses as a result of not getting the grant. These courses included ones like hair and beauty were money would be needed at the start of the academic year to buy things like kits.”

On the lack of information provided by SUSI Flanagan Tobin said:

“Youth organisations were not provided with the kind of information that they would need to help students and their parents or guardians while some organisations were. Citizens’ information workers were invited to seminars while others were not. Therefore there should be new measures put in place to allow agencies share and verify information relating to the grant application. Citizen’s information centres also do not have computers were young people can fill out the form under supervision”.

On the most vulnerable young people the candidate said:
“There were huge difficulties for young people unofficially in the care system and others who live with grandparents were they could not get information. This is shameful that the most vulnerable trying to make better lives for themselves were not able to get a grant. After all the grant itself is small enough but it is needed”.

Flanagan Tobin concluded:
“If SUSI do not have the staff to manage the system it should be put back in the hands of the councils who have more experience to deal with the grant process. I have written to the Minister of Education and Skills to outline these concerns which must be addressed at this time”.

Further information: Wayne Flanagan Tobin at tobinwr@tcd.ie

author by Early School achiever - University of lifepublication date Wed Aug 21, 2013 13:43Report this post to the editors

Same as last year. The labour party set up this stupid thing. Left college got a job and they can keep their grants.

author by Annapublication date Sat Sep 07, 2013 13:02Report this post to the editors

Shame on this the brian child of Ruairi Quinn. This is all because of the labour party my kids had to quit. They better not canvass me. Who do they think they are. Rang my not so local counciller an american girl my the name of Parodi and she didnt know what Susu was!

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Tue Sep 10, 2013 16:20Report this post to the editors

Anna

What a sad reflection of what Labour promised to do to educate. SUSI and its teething problems and lack of information raises the question of purpose. Is this another data mining operation similar to the LPT aimed at sourcing as much data about citizens while forgetting the purpose ie providing the necessary grants for people to attain third level qualifications without the threat of having no money to complete their courses? To think that last year there were debt collectors on the university campuses while others were prevented from doing their examinations is about discrimination against the poor defined by money not qualitities and the diversity they contribute to learning. People who work hard at school and get the required points to enter third level education must be given the grants on their due date. For SUSI not to do this is a form of bullying and should be treated as such. Throw this back to Trinity College Dublin, Professor Mona Moore and their faculty on the culture of bullying which is now being transferred to DCU; too often the research based on scientific evidence criteria fails to look to the obvious and contribute in the present tense.

SUSI is about grants. The media have an obligation to monitor how successful this support system is and to ensure that the grants, as promised are paid on time. The fact that people gain entry to university and are forced to leave because the grants have not been paid is totally unacceptable and especially now with the unemployment rate near 450,000 with another 300,000 supposed to have emigrated.

Today is about Suicide. Some say it is 10 people a week, some say more. It is time for people to think of others and the obstacles they face, perceived or otherwise. A thought, an action can save a life. If a person completes secondary school and gains entry to University, do we really want to see them stressed because they can't survive because their grant is not available or worse maybe they are being harrassed by debt collectors on our campuses.

Brian Lenihan's RIP son, now President of the Student Union in Trinity College Dublin speaks openly about his transition into third level with depression and alcohol reliance. SUSI should be high on his agenda and people should ensure that he monitors the situation especially as he says that 'retention' is one of his priorities. The assumption being that 'retention' is keeping people in the universities, once they gain access. SUSI is one reason people are forced to leave; another can be stress/depression/addiction. If these apply and cause drop-outs, the counselling services need to kick in and work-out the problems so that people stay in university and leave with coping strategies.

Anna ... Scholarships and Belvedere college. RTE 1 last night selected those who went forward for scholarships and who got them. If you want education, don't let the inadequacies of SUSI or Labour stand you down, keep fighting.

author by Laurence - Drop outpublication date Wed Sep 11, 2013 00:15Report this post to the editors

The last poster has inspired me to fight back. Labour's way? NO WAY.

author by Laurence - Drop outpublication date Wed Sep 11, 2013 00:17Report this post to the editors

I meant Comyn

author by Comyn - Justicepublication date Fri Nov 01, 2013 16:27Report this post to the editors

Complaints, communication, inter-connectedness, can create outcomes and if today's Irish Independent is correct, the grants paid to students in third level institutions this year has been a great success.

What do the students have to say?

author by Unemployed - Dole queuepublication date Fri Nov 08, 2013 13:13Report this post to the editors

Could not get the grant as have been in and out of care and fell out of touch with the parents so missed out on my course. Went to the Labour Party TDs clinic and never heard a word back. Just fancy letter headed paper saying nice to meet me. Load of rubbish.

author by Jonathan - Education versus unemploymentpublication date Fri Nov 08, 2013 15:51Report this post to the editors

Don't give up Debbie.

What stage are you at? Have you completed your leaving cert and have applied for entry to University? Have you taken a back to education route? If so you will be making your CAO applications for your choice of place at universities/colleges before February 2014. Don't be afraid to ask. Education especially now is essential because for younger people and mature students unemployed due to no work particularly long periods of unemployment are not to be recommended.

To avail of a grant through SUSI means you will have most likely made applications for the courses you are interested in for the 2013/14 year.

If you are on the dole and are interested in third level education, start by contacting Solas, the newly appointed body to replace FAS whose function it is to establish courses for people who are out of work and it is probable that some of these courses will involve back to education courses. If you get a place then you can find out how best to achieve grant status.

Moocs is worth googling up; or the Open University provides access to education too. Personally, I would say if you are not in the system presently for education, create your own daily routine attending the library and using the internet, it answers most questions and you will prepare yourself for eligibility for the grant and entry to university.

All the best

Jonathan

author by Swiftian - Third Level educationpublication date Wed Dec 04, 2013 16:12Report this post to the editors

If so, it is surprising no student decided to englighten others.

Earlier postings reveal the absolute hardship imposed on students struggling to remain in college without the support of their grants. Reports stated that debt collectors appointed by universities were to be found lurking around campuses to ensure debts owed ie fees by students were paid. Threats that students who failed to pay would not be allowed to sit exams proved particularly unjust.

SUSI year one was a crisis zone for many and one needs to ask the question how many people actually dropped out of third-level last year and in particular if it was due to slow or non payment of the grant.

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor, Irish Independent, reveals that SUSI, (the new body that is supposed to be devoid of the bureaucracy of the previous system), is in fact ahead of itself in the processing of grants ie compared with last year, its first year. Good news we hope but only if we get the feedback from the students.

This year:
52,000 grants have been awarded to students this year.
(32,000 for first-time and 20,000 renewals).

Presently, 48,000 students are already receiving payment; the remainder are due to be paid as soon as the colleges register that the students are registered and attending.

SUSI we are told has learned from its mistakes.

"Changes for this year included electronic links between SUSI and a range of state agencies to allow for the direct transfer of certain documents, such as tax certificates, needed to support an application".


60,000 grants are to be made available this year; 40,000 approximately are new applicants.

Those outstanding: well it is to do with the applicants who are yet to submit documents and additional information. This applies to approximately 11,000 students.

The promise is on receipt of the documentation, a two week wait yields a final decision.

SUSI appears to have overcome the many obstacles and well done if this is the case.

CAO application time approaches. A system that ensures payment of grants should encourage people into back to education schemes. So SUSI's performance is good news for students.

Feedback is core to progress.

Swiftian

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