Ombudsman will take grant SUSI complaints from students
THE Ombudsman has urged students who are still waiting for college grants a year after applying to contact them.
Students who feel they have not been treated “fairly” can contact the Office of the Ombudsman if they have exhausted all avenues with SUSI, Emily O’Reilly has said.
The continuing delay from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) – the body which now administers the grant system for first and second years – means that students have been experiencing difficulties viewing exam results and making decisions about their academic future.
Many Irish students have reported that their application documents have been mislaid or lost by SUSI.
Ms O’Reilly said that these complaints – in addition to entitlement queries and appeal delays – can be submitted at her office. Students can submit their complaint themselves or nominate a person to make the complaint on their behalf.
The Ombudsman has vowed to resolve complaints, which can be made in writing or in person, as quickly and as informally as possible.
Yesterday, SUSI confirmed that all initial applications for third-level education grants for the 2012/13 academic year have been fully processed. However, it said there were still more than 400 students who appealed their grant application refusal awaiting a final decision. However SUSI promised they would be processed by the end of this week.
The Ombudsman’s comments follow more than a year of frustration for applicants, with students reported as being forced to drop out of college and some unable to use college facilities like libraries because they had not paid their "student contribution fee" of €2,250.
Applications for the 2012/13 academic year grants were first made to SUSI at the beginning of last year.
SUSI Communications Officer John Conway said they were "extremely confident" of being able to handle all applications for the coming academic year without repeat delays because of new measures introduced by the body.
The Office of the Ombudsman has met with SUSI to discuss its role and to review its standards as regards public administration and complaint handling.