The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will lobby the government for reform of the SUSI grant system, after its national congress voted today in favour of a motion to push for changes to SUSI’s eligibility criteria.
At USI’s national congress, currently running over Zoom, delegates voted for a motion that said “students have been excluded by the criteria of SUSI”.
It was proposed by Luke Daly, the deputy president of Technological University Dublin Students’ Union (TUDSU), who said that “the current system is completely shoddy and broken”.
Daly argued that changes to adjacency rates and the Back to Education Allowance are necessary to ensure that students “do not find themselves in financial limbo”.
TUDSU Ents Officer Padraic Keane also spoke in favour of the motion, noting that even in a “regular climate”, “students are struggling to pay fees, rents, for transport and for food”.
“The criteria is strict and unforgiving. It makes it so difficult for our student to avail of something they need”, Keane said.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the government expects record numbers of students to apply for the grant, with 10,000 applications received the day the scheme opened. Some 30,000 applications were filed for the grant by the end of the first week.
This increase is a result of students and families fearing an uncertain economic future following the coronavirus pandemic. Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor told the Irish Times that “the Susi grant scheme contains enough flexibility to address matters which may arise due to Covid-19”.
As a result of the pandemic, the government expanded the criteria for those eligible for the SUSI grant.
Applicants who have experienced a fall in income were able to seek to have their application reviewed under the change of circumstances provision within the scheme, as long as they could show that any change in income is likely to continue for the duration of the approved course or for the foreseeable future.