Means test may include farm assets

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is determined to means test farmers and the self-employed for college grants.

The plan could impact on thousands of students if any new assessment system includes productive assets such as farmland or machinery.

Mr Quinn made his comments yesterday at Calasanctius College in Oranmore, Co Galway, where he met students picking up their exam results. He said a report on making the grant system “more fair” was to be completed by his department in September.

Already some Fine Gael TDs, the Irish Farmers’ Association, and the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association have spoken out against such a move, but Mr Quinn said it had the support of ministers.

“I heard Simon Coveney on the radio recently speaking about it. He is minister for agriculture and fisheries and he wants to ensure that the productive capacity of the agriculture sector is not damaged in any particular way and I would feel the same. This is not about punishing any one particular section of the community: it is about trying to take the system that is deemed to be unfair by many people to make it more fair. But not to make it more fair in a way that causes damage.”

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