Some 10,000 students awaiting completion of grant applications

Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 00:00

Almost 10,000 students are still awaiting completion of their grant applications, the secretary general of the Department of Education said yesterday.

Seán Ó Foghlú also told an Oireachtas committee mistakes had been made in teachers’ pay over a period from January to October 2011 amounting to €1.74 million. Some €508,482 had been repaid, and the department would deduct the remainder from the salaries or pensions of those concerned.

Summarising the position in relation to students grants, Mr Ó Foghlú said latest figures showed 2,164 students were awaiting approved payments, while some 7,357 applications were in the pipeline.

Of these 7,357 about 4,176 had made incomplete returns, while 3,181 had been asked for supplementary documents.

A further 8,859 applicants had not responded to the process after initial expressions of interest, he said.

Pressed by vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Kieran O’Donnell TD, Mr Ó Foghlú said he was not satisfied with the situation. However, he told the TDs and Senators the process of appointing an agency to handle the work was complex and the CDVEC would certainly be handling applications again next year.

15 per cent

Mr O’Donnell said the figures revealed that 15 per cent of all applicants – leaving out those who did not respond after initial expressions of interest – were still being processed.

Christmas exams

He asked what remedies would be put in place, and told Mr Ó Foghlú it was not acceptable that students from disadvantaged backgrounds had sat their Christmas exams while worrying if they had enough money to keep going.

Mr Ó Foghlú said the department reiterated the apology given by the Minister for Education, and said one of the issues about payments to those who had been approved was about students coming back to the CDVEC unit with details of their bank accounts.

Mr Ó Foghlú also said the system was different from that of central processing for items such as medical cards as most college decisions were made in a very short timeframe and applications were being put together by students all across the country at the same time.

This was not the same situation as other centralised applications. He said in future students intending to go to college may be asked to apply sooner.