Students waiting for grants 'going hungry'

 

Third-level students are struggling to pay rent and buy food because of delays in processing education grants, according to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

First-time grant applications are being processed this year by Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi), a centralised system operated by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (VEC).

Of the students whose applications have been approved, 28 per cent – about 5,500 – have to receive payment, USI president John Logue said.

Trinity College Students’ Union set up a food box two months ago for students struggling to afford daily meals. Other colleges around the country followed suit or have begun handing out food vouchers, Mr Logue said.

Susi’s failure to process grants promptly has led to students going hungry, according to Mr Logue. The poor state of the economy and a lack of graduate jobs have put increased pressure on students to concentrate on achieving first-class degrees, often to the detriment of their health, he said.

“Unfortunately at this stage hunger is an issue in Irish universities,” he said.

Landlords praised

He said USI was unaware of any evictions and he praised landlords in general, who had been “very lenient”.

A spokeswoman for Susi said by now “virtually all completed grant applications have been processed”.

Failure by students to provide necessary documentation has delayed most of the remaining payments, she said.