Farmers' children may lose their college grants
Thousands of children from farming families will be locked out of third-level education if farm assets are included in means-testing for college grants, farm organisations have warned.
A proposal by economist Dr Colin Hunt to include assets such as farmland in means-testing for higher education grants has been rejected as ludicrous and discriminatory by farming leaders.
The Hunt Report, which was launched by Minister for Education Mary Coughlan, says that the present system of allocating grants solely on the basis of declared income "does not command confidence".
Any asset test would affect farming families who have traditionally placed great importance on the value of third-level education. One-in-11 college grants currently go to children of farm families.
Labour TD Ruairi Quinn said that he was in favour of the proposal "in principle".
Fine Gael said it couldn't comment on the proposal without further information on the issues involved.
IFA president John Bryan has written to Ms Coughlan seeking assurances that the Government will not introduce any test that includes productive assets such as farmland for determining grant eligibility.
The higher education grant was worth up to €3,250 for a student living away from home and €1,300 for a student living at home last year. The rates of payment for this year will be cut by 4pc in line with the Budget announced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last month.