Dáil Éireann - Volume 511 - 30 November, 1999
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Mr. R. Bruton Mr. R. Bruton
378. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the first instalment of student maintenance grants have not been paid; and if he will replace existing arrangements which are ineffective or arrange an immediate first instalment to be paid prior to commencing the course. [24874/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): The arrangements for the payment of maintenance grants under the higher education grants scheme are a matter for the local authorities, which are statutorily entrusted with the administration of the scheme under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Act, 1968. My Department has been in contact with the local authorities and I understand that all local authorities had paid their first instalment on approved completed applications by 1 November.
My Department has also been in contact with the vocational education committees who administer the VEC scholarships scheme and I understand all the vocational education committees had paid the first instalment on approved completed applications by mid November.
The European social fund-aided maintenance grants scheme for students attending post leaving certificate courses provides for the payment of maintenance grants in monthly instalments in arrears by the relevant VEC. From enquiries made by my Department I understand that to-date all but one VEC has paid their first instalment on approved completed applications. In the case of the one VEC outstanding, I understand that the VEC in question notified the course co- ordinators, that due to IT difficulties they would not be in a position to pay until early December.
The cases where first instalment payments have yet to be made are those where the local authorities-vocational education committees are awaiting further information from applicants or where late applications were accepted.
In regard to the payment arrangements under the schemes of student support, the Deputy will be aware that officials of my Department are currently participating in a joint working group with officials of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs which is undertaking a detailed review of the administration of the student support schemes. I have previously indicated that no irrevocable decisions will be taken in relation to any future arrangements without appropriate consultation with all interested parties. A date for completion of the work has not been identified.
It is not possible to arrange for an immediate first instalment to be paid prior to commencing the course as the administering bodies have to process completed application forms in order to determine a candidate's eligibility and have to be satisfied that students are enrolled on approved courses before payment can be made.
Dáil Éireann 511 Written Answers. Higher Education Grants.