Opposition politicians today joined with around 200 student protestors to demand the immediate introduction of proposed laws to reform the grants system.
The demonstrators gathered outside the Dáil for a Union of Students in Ireland (USI) rally to urge the Government to publish the Student Support Bill.
The Labour Party’s Ruairi Quinn, Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes, Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty and Senator David Norris were among those who turned out to back the call.
Mr Quinn said the bill, when enacted, will improve an inefficient grant system which has left 60,000 students still waiting for money.
“The flaws of the current system, coupled with a lack of urgency from the Government to reform grant application process, has forced students to look for work to ease their financial burden instead of concentrating on their studies,” he said.
“This Bill is merely the first step, student accommodation costs and registration fees need to be brought down to create a fair learning environment for students.”
Senator Doherty said those suffering most under the present system are students from low income and rural families.
“With grant payments delayed by up to four months many have to borrow to enable them to pay rent and utilities,” he said.
“In extreme cases some can be faced with no option but to drop out.”