Cork students are facing uncertainty over grants ahead of the first round of college offers next week. It comes after Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn proposed a review of the eligibility of third-level grants, with Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan stating this week that an expert group has been appointed to examine the issue.
“We have asked the departmental working party to give us an assessment and make recommendations with the view of making sure that the system is more fair. That report is due in September and when we get that report we’ll read it and consider it and then decide what to do," said Minister Noonan, adding that there will be no change to the eligibility criteria this year.
However, Cork Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan said that Minister Quinn needs to “make clear what his intentions are in regard to third level grants” so those waiting for CAO results “will not be facing into a situation whereby they could lose a grant which is essential to maintaining them in education after just one year at third level”.
Deputy Moynihan stated that it is “hugely unfair that a large number of Leaving Certificate students and their families in Cork continue to face huge uncertainty over changes to third level grants only a few days before they are expected to make a decision on college offers”.
“Minister Quinn’s agenda in this regard was made quite clear again this week when figures were released by the HEA showing that 40% of farmers and close to 50% of self employed people secured a college grant for their children. However, what is not mentioned in these figures is that the average farm income continues to be €24,000,” he said. “Minister Quinn’s plan to include capital assets in means testing for grants is wrong. If he proceeds with this, it is another attack on farm families and small business owners in Cork who want the opportunity for their son or daughter to go to college. The true test of whether someone is eligible for a grant has to be their income not their assets."