Surge in numbers on student grants
THE days of the cash-strapped student may well be numbered -- thanks to the recent spate of job losses and pay cuts, more people are qualifying for student grants today than ever before.
The Government coughed up €264m to cover student grants for the academic year that finished last summer -- about €21m more than it paid the year before. Overall, 57,261 people pocketed student grants for courses that kicked off in autumn 2008, according to figures just released by the Department of Education and Science.
One of the biggest jumps was for those taking up post-leaving certificate courses. At 9,510, the number of students who qualified for post-Leaving Certificate grants was about 20 per cent higher than the year before.
"A lot of self-employed people who lost their jobs or PAYE workers who got a pay cut are now qualifying for grants whereas in the past, they didn't," said a spokesman for the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
The upsurge in applications for third-level courses is also behind the increased cost to the Government of student grants. And with the recession prompting a record surge in college numbers, the cost of college grants is likely to soar over the next few years.
Last autumn saw the largest jump ever in numbers accepting places in higher education, according to the HEA.
The Department of Education said the cost of college grants for courses that started in autumn 2009 will not be known until late 2010.