Ombudsman accepts over 50 complaints against Susi

More than 50 complaints against the body overseeing the approval of student grants have been accepted by the ombudsman.

Ombudsman accepts over 50 complaints against Susi

The Ombudsman’s Office has taken 55 complaints against Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) since June 21 — of which 34 are still being investigated.

A further 90 complaints were rejected by the ombudsman as Susi’s internal appeals process had not yet been fully exhausted by students.

A “routine and regular meeting” between Susi and representatives of the ombudsman’s office took place last night to continue development of a complaints handling systems within Susi, according to ombudsman communication officer Dave Nutley.

Of the complaints made, 21 have been resolved to date with approximately half in favour of the student.

Mr Nutley also confirmed that the vast majority of complaints relate to applications made in advance of 2012/13 rather than this academic year.

Susi was heavily criticised last year for delays in processing grants for around 40,000 students who qualified for assistance, but have since promised to end such delays.

The Union of Students Ireland (USI) expressed disappointment with the number of students having to go to the ombudsman with their complaints, saying many had been “in limbo for months” without knowing if they could go back to college or manage their debts.

Spokeswoman Cat O’Driscoll said: “We welcomed the announcement from the ombudsman that Susi complaints would be heard by her office but we hope they will not continue to rise in these numbers.”

The students’ body also recognised that changes and improvements which appear to be going to plan have been made by Susi.

About 65% of complaints made to the ombudsman in 2012 were closed within three months, while 85% were resolved within a year.

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