Wednesday, 29 September 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
354. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a third level grant was refused in 2003 to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21291/04]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The higher education grant schemes operate under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. These Acts define a mature student to mean a person “of not less than 23 years of age, or such other age as may stand specified for the time being in regulations made by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, who have secured places in approved institutions and have reached that age on the 1st day of January, or such other date as may be prescribed from time to time by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, in the year of entry to such institutions”. The Acts further provide, inter alia, for the making of grants to mature students whose means and those of their parents, where the mature students are dependent on their parents do not exceed prescribed limits.
Under the terms of the schemes, 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 candidate who was not ordinarily resident with his-her parents from 1 October of the year preceding the academic year in which s-he entered an approved course. Independent mature students are assessed without reference to either their parents’ income or address.
The higher education grant scheme is administered by the local authorities under the aegis of my Department. In order for a grant applicant to be assessed as an independent mature student, he or she must provide documentary evidence to the local authority of his or her independent residence from 1 October of the relevant year. My Department understands that sufficient evidence to establish that the candidate in this case has been living independently from the prescribed date has not, to date, been supplied to Kilkenny County Council, the relevant awarding body in this case.
Until such time as satisfactory evidence is provided by the candidate to determine that he meets the definition of an independent mature student prescribed in the scheme, he cannot be assessed as such for the purpose of his grant application. He can, however, be assessed as a mature student dependent on parents with reference to his parents’ income and address.
355. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 will be given the maximum advice and support in relation to funding their education and to ensure they receive a grant. [21303/04]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The statutory framework for maintenance grants under the higher education grants scheme, which is set out in the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992, provides for means-tested higher education grants in order to assist students to attend full-time third level education. A similar condition exists in the other third level maintenance grant schemes.
Under the terms of the free fees initiative, whereby the State meets the tuition costs of eligible students, an approved course is defined as a full-time undergraduate course of a minimum duration of two years in an approved third level institution.
Part-time courses are therefore not approved courses under the terms of the maintenance grant schemes or the free fees initiative. As the person to whom the Deputy refers is pursuing a part-time course, he is ineligible for funding under the third level maintenance grants schemes, or the free fees initiative.
The fund for students with disabilities, which is administered on behalf on my Department by the national office for equity for access to third level education, aims to assist students with disabilities in third level institutions and PLC colleges to participate in full-time further and higher education. The purpose of the fund is to provide students who have serious sensory, physical and-or communicative disabilities, with grant assistance towards the cost of special equipment, special materials and technological aids, targeted transport services, personal assistants and sign language interpreters. The scheme does not provide for the payment of tuition fees.
356. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received a request to add an institution (details supplied) to the remit of the residential institutions redress scheme; the consideration he is giving to the request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21343/04]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Noel Dempsey): At present 128 institutions are listed on the Schedule to the Residential Institutions Redress Act. Section 4 of the Act enables additional institutions that are identified as reformatory schools, industrial schools, orphanages, children’s homes and special schools, in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function, to be added to the Schedule.
My Department has received correspondence from both individuals and survivor groups identifying a number of additional institutions that may be eligible for inclusion in the Schedule. It has been necessary for my Department to establish if in fact the institutions identified to it are eligible for inclusion in the Schedule and this process has proven to be time consuming and is continuing.
However, while inquiries have not yet been completed in respect of all institutions, I can confirm that the Government has recently approved the addition of a further 13 institutions to the Schedule. In accordance with Section 4 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, I am currently making arrangements to have a draft of the Order necessary to add these 13 institutions to the Schedule laid before each of the Houses of the Oireachtas in order to seek a resolution of approval.
I do not consider that it would be appropriate to identify the 13 institutions until the draft Order is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is possible that further institutions may be added to the Schedule in the future as a result of the inquiries being conducted by my Department.
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