Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has said an external review of the new student grant processing system, SUSI, will do nothing to help the thousands of students affected by the grant crisis this year.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “We don’t need a review to tell us that this system has been a complete mess from the beginning and that this, coupled with a lack of leadership from the Minister for Education, has caused real hardship for thousands of student nationwide.
“The students whose education has been put in jeopardy as a result of this crisis need more from Minister Quinn.  Some were forced to drop out of third level altogether while others had severe difficulty accessing college resources.  We now learn that the USI has been forced to provide food packages to those students who, more than 4 months into the academic year, are still waiting for the support they need to stay in college.  And yet none of these students have any independent means of appealing SUSI’s decisions or complaining about how they were treated.
“The problems at SUSI are clearly issues of maladministration. And yet, it was confirmed to Fianna Fáil before Christmas that SUSI will not come under the remit of the Ombudsman until this summer.  As the Ombudsman will only have the power to investigate future claims, none of the students affected by any maladministration at SUSI this academic year will be eligible to have their cases investigated.
“I am again calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to immediately establish an administrative independent appeals and complaints mechanism on a temporary basis to cover the period until SUSI comes under the Ombudsman’s remit.”