Student Support Schemes

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the mounting difficulties students have in accessing their grants, if he will continue to fund the student assistance fund beyond 2013. [51835/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The Third Level Access Measure provides support for disadvantaged students through two sub-priorities: the Student Assistance Fund and the Fund for Students with Disabilities. The objective of the Student Assistance Fund, is to assist students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise, due to their financial circumstances, be unable to continue their third level studies. These funds are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of my Department and are funded under the National Development Plan, with assistance from the European Social Fund. No decisions have yet been taken on the amount that will be allocated to Ireland or the programmes to be funded in the next round of EU Structural Funds for the period 2014-2020. Some €13.2m is available in the Third Level Access Measure Fund overall in the 2012/13 academic year. I have no plans at present to discontinue the Student Assistance Fund.”

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 21 November]

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