Students turn to Ombudsman over Susi grant difficulties

More than 50 complaints from students who have had difficulty having grant processed

The Union of Students of Ireland has described as “disappointing” the level of dissatisfaction with Susi

The Union of Students of Ireland has described as “disappointing” the level of dissatisfaction with Susi

Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 18:05

More than 50 complaints from students who have had difficulty having their third-level grant applications processed through the centralised Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) system have been accepted by the Office of the Ombudsman since June.

The Union of Students of Ireland has described as “disappointing” the level of dissatisfaction with Susi, which was established to process grant applications in 2012.

Some 55 complaints were accepted by the ombudsman. A further 90 were rejected because the appeals procedure had not been fully explored by the complainants, the ombudsman’s spokeswoman said.

Accepted complaints
Of the 55 complaints accepted by the ombudsman, 21 have been resolved and 34 are still being investigated. About half of the settled complaints found in favour of the student.

Cat O’Driscoll of the Union of Students in Ireland said it was disappointing so many students had felt the need to take a case to the ombudsman. “The number of cases that have been overturned is also a matter of concern to the union,” she said.

“There is a handful of problems common to all cases. One of the leading obstacles is proving independence from parents. Students may be living independently for many years with no support from their parents but this can be very hard to prove.”

Ms O’Driscoll said Susi had upgraded its processes in consultation with the USI and the union was expecting better outcomes this year.

“Susi has improved its communication policy and students now have access to an application tracking system and a dedicated website for the first time. We are hopeful that students will have a better experience this year.”