Farmers have reacted angrily to proposed changes to the student grant means test which could yet include farm land in the eligibility calculation.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is due to view a report by an education review group shortly, which will contain proposals for the inclusion of capital assets and income when assessing eligibility for the student grant.
“We are totally and utterly opposed to this,” said Gabriel Gilmartin, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association.
“If these changes are brought in, it would effectively discriminate against hard-working farming families wishing to send their children to third-level education.”
According to the National Farm Survey estimates, the 2011 average farmer income came to €24,861.
IFA president John Bryan said productive farm land cannot be viewed as an asset in the context of third-level maintenance grants, no more than a self-employed business owner’s equipment.
In response to a separate query from the ICMSA, Mr Quinn said any revisions to the eligibility test will focus on creating a more equitable system.
The minister said any proposals arising from the recommendations will require both Government agreement and legislative amendment.
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