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O'Keeffe attacked over 'unfair' grants system

EDUCATION Minister Batt O'Keeffe was attacked last night for failing to introduce reform in the student grants system, which allows children from well-off families to get state support for attending college.

Labour education spokesperson Ruairi Quinn said it was wrong that "the publican can get a student grant but the barman can't". He was commenting on a new study that found that one-in-five children from professional families was getting a college maintenance grant.

The report, from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), revealed that over half of farmers' children got higher education grants.

"The Minister for Education has done nothing to fix this simple problem, yet he still claims improving access to higher education is one of his top priorities".

Meanwhile, Irish Farmers' Association leader John Bryan said it should be no surprise that half of farm families qualified for grants because of the "disastrously low income situation in farming".

The IFA estimates that the average income of full-time farmers is now equivalent to less than half of average industrial earnings and only one-third of average public sector earnings.

Irish Independent