Fianna Fáil has once again called on the Education Minister to reconsider his damaging changes to the third level grant system that will discriminate against farmers and self employed workers.
 
Minister Ruairí Quinn has confirmed to Fianna Fáil’s Education Spokesperson Brendan Smith that plans to include capital assets in the means-testing for third level grants are at an advanced stage.
 
Deputy Smith has described it as a retrograde step that will put third level education out of the reach of thousands of families.
 
“Fianna Fáil has been strongly opposed to these changes since it was announced in the Budget.    Minister Quinn’s policy discriminates against farming families and self employed workers on low incomes who are dependent on state support to send their children to college,” said Deputy Smith.
 
“The fairest way to assess eligibility for third level grants is based on income and not on the not on the notional value of productive assets. There are many families who have land or a business that is earning very little in the current climate, and their low income means they are struggling financially.  Including their capital assets in the means-testing for grants will give an inflated impression of their earnings, and will put them in an extremely difficult situation when it comes to third level costs.
 
“There is no doubt that this policy will put third level education out of the reach of many younger people from farming or self-employed backgrounds. The long-term economic and social effects of this are considerable. I am pleading with the Minister to reconsider before it’s too late.”