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College students to be allowed to earn more without losing Susi grant


Education Minister Simon Harris on a visit to DkIT earlier this month

Education Minister Simon Harris on a visit to DkIT earlier this month

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris


Education Minister Simon Harris on a visit to DkIT earlier this month

Students will be able to work and earn more during the summer months – without losing eligibility for their college grants.

Currently, a third level student can earn no more than €4,500 when working, without it cutting their Susi grant payments.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is considering a significant increase in this limit to help people fund college expenses and also ease employers’ staff shortages in sectors such as catering.

Mr Harris is working on proposals to allow students work longer hours in an effort to address staffing shortages in several areas of the economy.

There is no agreement at government level yet about the new earning limit. However, there is informed speculation that this amount could possibly be increased to as much €6,500, taking account of recent increases in the minimum wage.

Officials said the earning limit is in place to prevent students working excessive hours which could cut in on study and college time and damage their third level education and longer-term futures.

Mr Harris said both he and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have met business leaders across the country concerned about a severe shortage of staff. This is proving particularly challenging for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

Discussions are also taking place between Mr Harris and student representatives ahead of finalising the revised earning limit.

Mr Harris said he was seeking an early decision on the issue.

“I have been working very closely with the Tánaiste on this. We have been meeting with business people across this country who are really worried about how they are going to keep their businesses open over the summer months,” he said.

“This is a particular challenge for those working in hospitality and tourism. I have been meeting with the Restaurants Association of Ireland and they are worried about staff shortages and how they are going to maintain what they need. I have also listened to students too,” Mr Harris added.

He conceded the change won’t solve all of the challenges but it will go some way to ensuring students can participate in the workforce over the summer months and not have to worry about their eligibility for a student grant.

“We will also have to balance it to ensure their education is not affected," he added.

Mr Varadkar publicly endorsed the idea last week. He said the current student earning limit was “a perverse disincentive” and ways must be found to change it.

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