Food for Thought
Deaglán de Bréadún
It’s not my custom to reproduce press releases from politicians – especially ones referring in complementary terms to another newspaper! – but there is a serious issue raised in this statement issued yesterday by Ruairi Quinn, the Labour Party’s Education Spokesman. Have a read of it:-
THE PUBLICAN CAN GET A STUDENT GRANT BUT THE BARMAN CAN’T
Today’s Irish Independent reports that one in five children from
professional families are getting a maintenance grant to go to college. It
also shows that over half of farmers’ children get higher education grants. It’s alarming to think that scarce grant money may not be going to people
need it most. This is a perfect example of the inequality built into our
education system.Most farmers and professionals are self-employed and are able to manage
their tax affairs in such a way that they can qualify for student grants.
Meanwhile, hard-pressed PAYE taxpayers find they don’t qualify for
financial support to send their children to third level education.
We need a serious overhaul of the student grants system. The government has
shelved the Student Support Bill 2008 for almost two years. The Minister
for Education has done nothing to fix this simple problem yet he still
claims improving access to higher education is one of his top priorities. I
think his actions speak louder than words.
The government cut student grants in December’s budget by 5% to ensure
students would share the pain along with other social welfare recipients.
The budget failed to recognise that student grants lagged behind inflation
during the boom years. Grants have increasingly failed to cover anywhere
near the cost of going to college.