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Local TD voices ‘disappointment’ as changes to student income earning limit ruled out

SUSI Grant

There is to be no change to the €4,500 limit on student earnings in order to qualify for the SUSI Grant.

So says local TD Carol Nolan following correspondence from the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris.

The current requirements for students seeking access to SUSI grants is that the applicant can earn up to €4,500 in holiday earnings whilst in education, 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.

Deputy Nolan, who is a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science 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.

Deputy Nolan said: “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.

“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.

“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.

“I do accept that Minister Harris has successfully brought forward a €200 increase to the student maintenance grant as well as the €1000 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 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.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.