Thousands of students from Donegal have been refused access to eligible student grants they should be entitled to. Deputy Pringle was speaking to Minister Burton in the Dáil this week raising the plight of 2,400 Donegal students who are attending the North West Regional Regional College in Derry city on level 5 QQI equivalency courses, unable to access student support from the State.
Under the terms of the Department’s student grant scheme, grant assistance is available to eligible students attending approved third level courses in approved institutions. To qualify for grant assistance, an applicant must satisfy the prescribed conditions of the scheme, including those relating to residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment.
“Students from Donegal can apply for maintenance grants in respect of approved courses at higher national diploma level or higher however, the student grant scheme is not available to students from Ireland who are attending PLC equivalent courses outside of the State, in this case Donegal students attending PLC courses in North West Regional College.
“This is despite the fact that the range of PLC courses on offer in the South are less than adequate, contrary to what the Minister stated in his reply to my Dáil question. Simply put, there aren’t enough places in Ireland to meet demand and it’s clear that North West College is an important education centre for Donegal students attending there and I feel this should be recognised within the current grant system.
“The Minister spouted out the same reply given to anyone raising the option of expanding a grant system, that extending eligibility for grants would open the proverbial floodgates, however unlikely that would be.
“I’ve asked the Minister to put this matter on the Department’s agenda, with a view to allowing students taking level 5 courses in the North West Regional College to access SUSI grant supports. He has committed to bringing it to the attention of his Department which I will follow up on in the near future” concludes Pringle.
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