Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne, has questioned why the number of students in receipt of the SUSI grant is declining while the number of students attending third level education is increasing.

Deputy Byrne said it seems illogical given that the number of students attending third level education has been rising steadily and will continue to rise further in the years ahead.

He explained, “€29 million has been wiped off Government spending on SUSI grants. Application numbers are going down as less and less students apply. Qualification criteria are as they have been previously, but the economic recovery means less and less families qualify for the grant – many families are finding themselves just above the threshold.

“This does not take into account the fact that rents are spiralling, the cost of living is increasing, and insurance costs are driving young people off the road.

“The Minister for Education previously recommended that less well-off families should consider not sending their children to University – by wiping this funding he is making sure they won’t be able to.

“Efforts should be made to ensure those from less well-off backgrounds have the same level of access to education. This decline in SUSI spending shows this is not happening. Every cent of that €29 million which has left SUSI is a payment that a student will not receive,” he concluded.