More than 2,000 students from across Co. Galway are still waiting for their grant applications to be processed.
Figures released through a series of Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, of the 4,403 students from Galway who applied for grants this year, less than 2,000 of these applications had been processed by the beginning of December, and only a fraction of these students had actually received grant payments.
By the beginning of the month, 705 Galway students had been rejected for a grant and 1,230 applications were successful. However, the vast majority of Galway students are still waiting to actually receive a grant payment.
Galway Deputy Eamon Ó Cuív said it was clear that the crisis had not gone away, “despite attempts by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to downplay it”.
The Fianna Fáil TD said the longer the grants crisis was allowed to linger, the “greater the likelihood” that many students would not be able to afford to stay in college.
“How can Minister Quinn allow this to happen? It seems that all his focus has been on spinning the figures to make this situation look more palatable than it is. But students don’t want to hear talk of processes and systems, they just want to know when they will actually get the money they are entitled to.”
Deputy Ó Cuív also blasted Minister Quinn’s attempts to blame students for the high level of unprocessed and ‘incomplete’ grant applications as a “cheap shot”, adding that students from lower income families who are in need of State support to stay in college “are not the ones dragging their heels here”.
Meanwhile, GMIT Students’ Union has gone one step further to make sure their voices are heard, by setting up a special website to encourage hard-up students to contact Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne.
The site, accessible at www.kynescorner.com, features an animated figure of Deputy Kyne in a festive Christmas jumper, with a series of slogans including ‘Mammy Knitted This’ and ‘Tell Me Your Woes’.
It also includes a feature allowing students to send an email directly to Mr Kyne, outlining how the proposed cutbacks to education funding will impact on them.