Students take case over grant cuts

 

THREE students have brought a High Court challenge to an “unfair and unjust” decision by the Minister for Education to cut their maintenance grants.

Their action is regarded as a test case brought on behalf of students attending third-level colleges, and is supported by the Union of Students of Ireland (USI).

The students are Medb McCarthy, a student at NUI Galway, from Murtyclough, Burrin, Co Clare; Robert Johnson, studying at Dundalk IT and living in Lattonalbany, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan; and Iesha Rowan, a mature student at Galway-Mayo IT, from Ashbrook, Oranmore, Co Galway.

The case opened yesterday. The outcome is likely to affect thousands of third-level students.

The changes were proposed by the last government and implemented in the 2011 budget.

The three students were due to get grants of about €6,100-€6,700 per year but the cuts resulted in losses of €2,440-€3,900 each, it is claimed. One of the main changes to the scheme was to increase the distance required to qualify for the non-adjacent grant rate from 24km to 45km for all existing and new applicants from September 2011. The three live more than 24km from college, and want the court to quash the decision.