Susi refuses to say how many student grants have been approved
on 05/09/2013 00:00:00
A progress report Susi is publishing today shows that 52,289 of the 59,000 first-time applicants by the Aug 5 deadline have gone forward for a final decision to award or refuse a grant. This last stage takes three to four weeks, according to Susi's own published process for dealing with claims, which it has been accepting since mid-May.
Based on this timeline, those who applied by early June (or by mid-July in best-case scenarios) should already have got a final decision. Susi has set a timeline of between six weeks and three months after first applying, within which students should have their claim decided.
Susi refused again last night to answer questions on progress, other than of those clearing the first stage of the process. The Irish Examiner has asked Susi on a number of occasions since the start of August how many have been awarded a grant, pending registration and commencement of their courses.
The body, which is part of City of Dublin Education and Training Board, repeated last night that it has decided only to release certain information at certain stages this year and that a further progress report will be issued in three weeks. However, the lack of full information from Susi makes its claims of improved processes and eradication of delays impossible to independently assess.
"We are continuing to process document packs as they come in," said Susi chief of operations Alan Murphy. "We want to ensure that the maximum number of applicants have final grant decision and, where awarded, are in payment in late October and over the following weeks as they are finalised."
Long delays for students in Susi's first year of operation forced Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to apologise to students and their families last November. An independent review identified a number of factors, a key one being the absence of systems to monitor progress, largely because Susi's management spent much of the early stages trying to secure the necessary staff.
The Central Applications Office said last night it has received 1,723 acceptances up to yesterday evening of places offered in its second round last week, bringing to 45,405 the number of new entrants due to begin higher education in the next few weeks.
More than 2,400 of the 3,756 new grant applications made since Aug 5 have been through initial assessment, which is currently taking up to three weeks. Almost 20,000 students have had grants renewed by Susi and should get first payments after colleges confirm their return.