Private-college students refused grants despite being eligible says union officer

Students eligible for SUSI grants are being denied their funding due to their intention to pursue education at a private college, Griffith College student union officer Michael McNamara has said.

Students intending to Griffith College Dublin, Cork and Limerick have been denied SUSI funding, despite eligibility for the grant.

Student officer Michael McNamara has said students at Dublin Business School and the Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences in Limerick have had the same problem.

Sophie Wright from Cork is one such student who is eligible for the SUSI grant due to her circumstances, yet because Sophie wants to attend Griffith College she has been refused her funding.

At present students attending private colleges like National College of Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons, St Nicholas Montessori College receive their full entitlements as do those students attending British Institute of Modern Music (BIMM) in Frances Street Dublin according to Mr McNamara.

Private-college students refused grants despite being eligible says union officer

Sophie, 19, also successfully applied for a tuition fees scholarship with Griffith College, but without her SUSI grant she worries she will not be able to survive without getting a part time job or a loan.

The young student, who recently completed her Leaving Certificate at St Patricks Secondary School in Cork is hoping to pursue a QQI degree BA in Business Studies, but is unsure of her future plans now due to the State’s refusal to grant her SUSI funding.

Reasons for choosing Griffith College

“I chose Griffith College because they have smaller class sizes and more one to one tutorials. I specifically chose it because it is not a normal university.

“I know the way I learn and I work better one to one so I know Griffith College will suit me.

“When I learned the State were refusing to honour my SUSI grant I was taken back.”

Private-college students refused grants despite being eligible says union officer

Sophie said because she had applied for a QQI approved course, she assumed it would be covered by the SUSI criteria which stipulates that QQI courses are covered by the grant.

Sophie is worried that the lack of funding will affect her future education. “I need the scholarship to live.

“I am 19 now I have to be able to support myself. I am from a one parent family and my mom only works part time so there is no way I would be able to go to Griffith College if it was not for the scholarship.

“I will have to work part-time or possibly get a loan and on the days where I should be working on an assignment or getting some work experience I will have to work.”

Sophie is just one of a number of individuals affected by this stipulation in the SUSI funding.

Griffith College Student Union officer

MMCN who works with the student union's at Griffith College Dublin Business School and ICHAS and is mentoring the current Wake Up SUSI campaign said: “It is totally unfair that 56% of those taking QQI (state approved degrees) qualifications are not been given their SUSI grants to attend long established and highly reputable private colleges”

“These colleges are situated near the city centre in Dublin Cork and Limerick offer small classes and personal attention and help with securing employment. It is heart breaking to have to turn away decent people from low income families whose course choice is at one of the colleges because they can't get their grant”

Sophie showed us her letter outlining her eligibility for the SUSI grant but has been let know through the system that due to choosing Griffith College she is no longer able to receive the funding.

Private-college students refused grants despite being eligible says union officer

Response from Government

In response to an inquiry made by the Department of Education and Skills released a statement saying they were considering a proposal submitted in early June.

“In early June, the Department received a proposal from the ‘Wake Up SUSI’ campaign in relation to extending student supports to students in certain private colleges.”

“This proposal is currently being considered by the Department, in the context of overall budgetary constraints.”

The statement also said an ‘Expert Group; was established in 2014 and this was working to publich a report regarding the future of the sector.

“An Expert Group chaired by Peter Cassells was established in summer 2014; to examine funding arrangements for higher education and to present options for developing a sustainable long term funding strategy for the sector.

“The Expert Group has completed its work and its report will allow for a real and meaningful discussion on the funding requirements of the sector and how those requirements should be met.

“As signalled in the Programme for Government, it is the Minister’s intention to publish the report shortly and to refer it to the cross-party Oireachtas Committee for consultation as part of the process for formulating a plan for the future of this sector.

“This will ensure that all views can be heard and considered on the most appropriate way forward for the Irish higher education system.”

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