Trinity, UCD and RCSI have fewest students receiving SUSI grant

A report by the Department of Public Expenditure shows that there are sharp differences in the proportion of grant-holders enrolled in different third level colleges

Students from Trinity are among the least likely to receive a Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant in a comparison of students around the country.

According to a recent report by the Department of Public Expenditure, students from Trinity, University College Dublin (UCD) and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) are the least likely to receive grant-aid, with only 5-25% being entitled to receive Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grants.

The report showed that over half of students at institutes of technology receive SUSI grants, compared to about one third of students studying in universities.

SUSI grants are paid to about 77,000 students in colleges and universities across the country.

According to the report, there is also an imbalance of female to male students in receipt of the grant, with more female students being given access to the grant. 

Last week, the Irish Times reported that “insufficient data” was being collected by SUSI, which determines the full income of thousands of students who are in receipt of third level grants.

The report by the Department of Public Expenditure showed the state is spending around €360 million per year to a total of 77,000 students in further and higher education.

According to the Irish Times, the SUSI income assessment process excludes non-recurring sources of income such as overtime payments and excludes the value of any assets, which is assessed as means in many other government subsidies.

The fields of study with the highest share of grant recipients are arts and humanities, business, administration and law, health and welfare, and natural sciences.

In July of this year, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris “urged” students who have not yet applied for SUSI grants to do so before the deadline closes. 

Minister Harris reassured students that the grant scheme would be “flexible” this year,  and can address loss of income in households as a result of Covid-19. 

Harris explained that students and their families who have experienced a fall in income can seek to have their application reviewed under the change of circumstances provision within the scheme, provided they can demonstrate that any change in income is “likely to obtain for the duration of the approved course or for the foreseeable future”.

At an Oireachtas committee last September, Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) President Lorna Fitzpatrick gave evidence that the eligibility criteria for the SUSI grant system needed to be made more flexible.

The USI president also brought forward a recommendation that the earnings limit and specific time period that students can work under the current holiday earnings criteria be removed, due to the “current cost associated with education”.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.