Students wait to see on 'reformed' Susi
on 06/09/2013 00:00:00
However, despite being open for business for the coming college year since mid-May, the organisation refuses to say how many students have got a final decision to date.
With colleges only resuming or holding induction days for new students over the coming week, Union of Students in Ireland (USI) vice-president Cat O'Driscoll said it is difficult to judge how well or otherwise Susi is performing compared to last year, when massive problems surrounded communications, students receiving multiple requests for the same documents and delays deciding on applications.
"What we're most interested in at this stage are the final numbers, those who have been fully processed and actually know if they are getting a grant and how much they will be getting."
Despite the lack of clarity, the Department of Education, and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, had no comment or statement yesterday on Susi's progress report. The problems in its first year of operation forced the minister to publicly apologise to students about the delays caused by Susi, which is part of City of Dublin Education and Training Board.
Ms O'Driscoll said a big concern had been individual students being able to find out where their applications stood and Susi's online tracking system appears to be helpful with that. She said the amount of documents that students need to submit is reduced significantly, which should have resulted in improvements.
A series of information sessions is being organised on campuses by student unions and Susi so students can meet officials face-to-face to discuss any issues they have.
The delays last year forced a one-off €3m increase in the budget given by the Department of Education to colleges for the Student Assistance Fund in January, but Ms O'Driscoll said changes to grant eligibility and recent exclusions of postgraduate students mean this hardship fund was already under enormous pressure and the additional money should be maintained in 2014.