The decision to leave an earning level limit unchanged for SUSI applicants was branded “profoundly disappointing” by a Laois Offaly TD.
Third level students who access Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grants can earn up to €4,500 while on holiday without any effect on grant eligibility. However, if the applicant earned more than €4,500 during holiday periods, then the balance is taken into account.
Laois TD Carol Nolan said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, has confirmed that there will be no change to the €4,500 limit on student earnings.
Deputy Nolan, who is a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education was speaking on the matter as Minister Harris prepares to bring proposals to Cabinet regarding the future funding of the third level sector in Ireland:
“Last March I made a detailed submission to the Steering Group Review on Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). As part of that submission, I specifically highlighted the need to increase the amount of earnings that a student could accumulate without any adverse impact on grant eligibility,” she said.
“Unfortunately Minister Harris has now confirmed to me that student grant applications for the 2022/2023 academic year will continue to be assessed on income earned in 2021 and that includes no changes being made to the existing earnings limit of €4,500.”
Deputy Nolan said: “This will be profoundly disappointing to many students who are anxious to earn as much as possible from their own work without being effectively penalised for that with respect to grant eligibility.”
She acknowledged that “that Minister Harris has successfully brought forward a €200 increase to the student maintenance grant as well as the €1,000 increase to the income threshold for students hoping to qualify for grants. But having said that, the decision to maintain the status quo regarding student earnings is a lost opportunity.”
“In the broader context we know from the 2016 Cassells Report on the future of higher education funding that additional annual core funding of €600 million is needed for the sector. That is a substantial amount of money. But a recent PQ[Parliamentary Question] reply I received from Minister Harris showed that the government funded Higher Education Authority and Science Foundation Ireland has provided grants to Trinity College alone in the order of €456 million since 2020.”
“We absolutely need to ensure that grants of this vast scale are achieving value for money and that other less well-known or elite colleges or third level institutions are not losing out because of the prestige associated with Trinity,” concluded Deputy Nolan.
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