Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has raised concerns about the alarming rate of third level grant applications refused so far this year and the massive backlog in unprocessed applications.

In reply to parliamentary questions from Deputy McConalogue, the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn confirmed that 72% of the grant applications processed so far this year have been refused.  In addition to this, 78% of applicants are still waiting to hear back from the Department of Education.

Deputy McConalogue said, “It seems unbelievable to me that the Department would be turning away nearly 3 out of every 4 applicants that are processed.

“It is becoming clear that the new SUSI system is riddled with problems.  This system was designed to speed up the administering of third-level grants and to prevent incomplete applications.  So how is it that 51,849 of the 65,335 still haven’t been processed? How is it that of the processed applications 72% of students have been refused?  How is it that almost 20,000 applications, which have been classed as incomplete, slipped through the new system?

“The Education Minister must urgently explain these massive delays and alarming rate of rejections.  When the SUSI system was launched, Minister Quinn said the process would be ‘quick and easy’ and that it would end the possibility of students facing ‘undue hardship as a result of delays’.  Instead we have a situation where tens of thousands of students across the country are still in the dark about their grant applications and are getting increasingly concerned as the department rejects nearly 3 out of every 4 applications.

“It is nearly November and there are still approximately 52,000 students waiting to hear if they will receive a grant. They need to know how long they are now expected to wait before they hear back from the Department. I am calling for a statement from Minister Quinn outlining the problems with the processing system and what is being done to address these problems and end the uncertainty for students.”