Dáil Éireann - Volume 615 - 21 February, 2006

Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.

  618. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the entitlements to third level education in respect of a person (details supplied) [456] in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6588/06]

  Ms Hanafin: My Department funds three means tested maintenance grant schemes for third level education students in respect of attendance on approved courses in approved third level institutions and one grant scheme in respect of post leaving certificate courses. These are the higher education grants scheme; the Vocational Education Committees’ scholarship scheme; the third level maintenance grants scheme for trainees; and maintenance grants scheme for students attending post leaving certificate or PLC courses.

The decision on eligibility for third level grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where, for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is desired. It appears that no such advice or instruction has, to date, been sought in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy. Officials of my Department have contacted South Dublin County Council and County Dublin VEC, the awarding authorities which cover the area in which the candidate referred to resides, and they have no record of receiving an application from the candidate in question. The candidate should, therefore, apply to their relevant awarding body in the first instance.

If an individual applicant considers that he or she has been unjustly refused a maintenance grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, he or she may appeal to the relevant local authority or VEC. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the relevant local authority or VEC, and remains of the view that the body has not interpreted the schemes correctly in his or her case, a letter outlining the position may be sent to my Department. Alternatively, as already indicated, the local authority or VEC may itself, in exceptional circumstances, seek clarification on issues from my Department. However, it is not open to me, or my Department, to depart from the terms of the maintenance grants schemes in individual cases.