Quinn to tell Cabinet of big improvement by student grant body Susi

The system was streamlined to make it easier to use, with a key change a major reduction in the amount of paperwork required to claim entitlement to a grant

  Ruairí Quinn: will present a memo on the greatly improved performance.  Photograph: Frank Miller

Ruairí Quinn: will present a memo on the greatly improved performance. Photograph: Frank Miller

Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 01:00

DICK AHLSTROM

Susi, the student grant body, will receive top marks when its report card is put before the Cabinet this morning.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn will present a memo on the greatly improved performance in issuing student grants quicker

The Student Universal Support Ireland was set up in 2012 to take over the payment of student grants. The aim was to consolidate all payment systems under a single body, bringing to an end, for example, payments from county councils and the former VECs.

Its initial efforts to register students and confirm they were entitled to a grant was a catastrophic failure, however, with the system quickly bogged down by the complexity of what it was trying to achieve.

The Department of Education held its hands up, acknowledging on Susi’s behalf that it had not been adequately prepared, with insufficient computer and staff resources to handle the load.

This year, however, proved a transformation, with Susi making significant improvements in its systems for the 2013-14 academic year, the memo to be put before Cabinet says.

The system was streamlined to make it easier to use, with a key change a major reduction in the amount of paperwork required to claim entitlement to a grant, the memo says.

This was achieved due to new information-sharing arrangements agreed between Government departments and agencies, along with additional staff and management resources.

Susi managed to meet or better almost all of the targets set for it. In 2012, for example, only 1,683 awards had been paid by the end of October, while in 2013 more than 17,700 awards had been paid.

There were 23,664 students without awards by the end of December 2012 due to missing documentation, but the matching figure for this past December was down to 6,711.

The spectacular failure of the system in the previous academic year caused significant headaches for Government politicians who were forced to deal with a litany of complains from constituents whose children had been forced to wait months for their grants.

Fewer visits
There should be fewer visits to constituency offices this academic year, however, given the improved performance of the Susi system.

A management framework has been agreed by the City of Dublin Education and Training Board and the Department of Education and this will maintain performance targets on the operation of Susi, the memo says.