Dáil Éireann - Volume 609 - 02 November, 2005
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Mr. Timmins Mr. Timmins
553. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 721 of 18 October 2005; if the criteria for qualification will be examined (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31813/05]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin: Under the terms of my Department’s third level maintenance grant schemes, a mature student is defined as a candidate who is at least 23 years of age on 1 January of the year of entry or re-entry to an approved course. Mature students are categorised as either independent mature students or mature students dependent on parents. An independent mature student is defined to mean a mature student who was not ordinarily resident at home with his or her parents from the October preceding their entry or re-entry to an approved course. Independent mature students are assessed without reference to either their parents’ income or address.
When assessing the means of students other than independent mature students, the schemes specify that the students’ means and those of their parents or guardians must be below a prescribed limit. This provision requires that parental income be taken into account irrespective of the individual circumstances in any case where the student is not an independent mature student. Generally speaking, candidates continue to be assessed under the terms and conditions of the scheme appropriate to their year of entry. Accordingly, candidates who were not classified as independent mature students at the time of  entry to an approved course may not generally be assessed as such for the duration of their courses.
While the candidate in question is now 24 years of age she will continue to be assessed for her PhD under the terms and conditions of the scheme appropriate to her year of entry. There is, however, provision under the terms of the 2005 schemes for candidates who are re-entering as mature students, following a break in study of at least one year, to pursue or complete an approved course for the first time. Such candidates may be assessed under the terms of the scheme appropriate to the year in which they re-enter. The terms of my Department’s schemes of student support must be applied impartially and it is not possible to make exceptions in individual cases. There are no plans at present to make changes to the existing arrangements.
Dáil Éireann 609 Written Answers. Higher Education Grants.