Athlone IT has set up a soup kitchen for students it says are struggling to get by. The Union of Students in Ireland has said that students are going to college hungry and that students’ unions are giving food boxes to the worst affected.
The students in Athlone are amongst 5,575 nationwide still waiting for grants to be processed.
Under the new SUSI scheme introduced by Ruairi Quinn, along with his broken election promises and huge hike in fees, the processing of student grants was supposed to become more streamlined. Instead it has been an unmitigated failure, in October there were still 50,000 of the 65,000 grant applications waiting to be processed and Quinn and the VEC tried to shift the blame onto students for not filling forms correctly. This bluff and bluster didn’t wash with even the mainstream media.
USI, student reps and those affected directly are calling for action as thousands of students are still awaiting grants due since last September and anecdotal evidence at least suggests many are dropping out of 3rd level education as a direct result of the Dept. of Education’s incompetence.
USI president John Logue stressed the desperate situation thousands find themselves in and made another salient point regarding grant delays
“The chronic delay with grant payments is stretching the patience of landlords to breaking point”
In November Quinn spoke to the press regarding the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) backlog, at the time it stood at 21,000, and explained that 50 temporary staff were hired to deal with the issue:
“The reason for their certainty – and I repeat the word, their certainty – that they will meet it [the Christmas target] is because they have increased their staffing quite considerably”.
Well that worked out well.