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November 23rd 2010 Volume 18, Issue 6


Student support bill to fix shambolic grant delays

Rory McDonnell

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) saw the culmination of their efforts to secure a new Student Support Bill come to fruition on Monday the 22nd of November. The USI have been lobbying in re- cent years for a centralised and modernised Student Maintenance Grant system whereby students can receive their grant instalments fully and on time. UCC Welfare Officer Padraig

Rice has described the grant situa- tion grimly, where some students are “sitting in limbo land wonder- ing if [they'll] have money for Christmas - [The grant authorities] are still sorting through applica- tions from August!” The new student grant system

hopes to reduce waiting times for grant applications and payments and reduce the overall cost of run- ning the department. Research con- ducted by the USI estimates that; “after the initial start up cost, a cen- tralised grant agency would save the government over €5 million an- nually” The USI has announced that the

“department will be placing amendments to the existing bill that will establish a single grant awarding agency and will have provisions enabling it to pay stu- dents on a monthly basis directly into their bank account”. The root of the problem, accord-

ing to the USI, lay within the old, decentralised grant administration

which was “hopelessly outdated for a modern Ireland”. There were four, almost identical but separate grant schemes administered by 66 different award authorities. Each of these awarding bodies were free to introduce whatever process they saw fit to process the applications which led to huge delays in grant payments. “The USI”, explains Padraig Rice, “sought to take these 66 different authorities and make them into one streamlined and cen- tralised institution with a proper appeals board”. But, according to the UCCSU,

even if the new Grant system is successfully implemented by Christmas this year, the current grant “simply does not go far enough”. A third of students de- pend on the student grant in Ire- land, which accounts for almost 70,000 students. The highest grant available in Ireland is €6,355, but the average cost per year for a stu- dent is €10,035. The grant also does not apply to under 23's that are not being supported by their parents. Since 1995; Pension has in-

creased by 148%, job seekers al- lowance has increased by 146%, while the student maintenance grant saw an increase of 69%. In the last budget the pension re- mained the same, while the job seekers allowance was cut was cut by 4.1% and the student grant was cut by 5%. The USI and UCCSU have been working hard to reverse this trend

by pushing for more innovation and progress within the student grant sector. A centralised grant system with an online grant appli- cation and a system whereby grants are paid directly in the stu- dent's bank accounts next has been secured with plans to at least main- tain the current student mainte- nance budget if not increase it. The USI are working to incor-

porate independent students under the age of 23 into the new grant system. Padraig Rice assures stu- dents that “[these services are] on the top of our agenda”.

Committee Members and Participants at the UCC Psych Soc and Sláinte Soc's SAD week pajama run and space hopper race. Photo: Ben Nolan

December 1st march to have trade union support

Byron Murphy News Editor

A march will take place in Cork City on Wednesday December 1st, to protest the expected cuts in the Government budget set to be released six days later. The protest is taking place under the slogan; “Fund Our Future: Rebel Against the Cuts” and is a joint organised event between UCC’s Students’ Union and the SU of CIT. It is the first such event of

the year with support from a pro- fessional trade union, as the Teach- ers’ Union of

reportedly given the protest their full support. TUI Area Rep Gillian Quinlan

told the Express, “The TUI Cork Colleges Branch are delighted to show our solidarity with the Stu- dents' Union of Ireland and partic- ipate in the protest march on December 1st. “The TUI have always taken the view that any increase in student

Ireland have

registration fees, the reintroduc- tion of third level fees or the low- ering of maintenance grants have a detrimental effect on maintain- ing socio-economic equity by denying access to third level ed- ucation to those in need of finan- cial support. The TUI are also extremely aware of the devastat- ing effects of cuts in capital ex- penditure on Education”

Continued on page3.

University College Cork

SAD Week

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