Tuesday 16 January 2018

New system has left many of our students in the lurch

CAO's 2013 online application facility opened last Monday, so next year's college applicants may set up their application process from now.

Meanwhile, it is disheartening to learn that tens of thousands of this year's college entrants are still in limbo about the state of their maintenance grant applications, almost two months after the start of their college term.

This was the first year that all new applications for student grants could be made online to a single awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), through studentfinance.ie. Up to this year, students applied either to their local authority or VEC for their grant.

The online application system for student grants for the 2012-2013 academic year became available in early June. Students were advised to apply early for their grant; it was not necessary to know the exact course they would be attending in order to make an application. The closing date for grant applications was August 31.

The documentary evidence required from grant applicants can be quite extensive, and relates to residency, nationality status, and reckonable income limits.

The reality of grants application is that much of the family income information in particular must be provided by the parents.

The documentation must be exactly right, and the SUSI website lists the top 10 reasons they have had to send applications back as follows: birth certificate (it must be the long version); proof of nationality, immigration; residency, self employment; P60; P21; independent residency; social welfare, and/or evidence of previous education.

The first year of any new system may inevitably have teething problems, but it is unacceptable that so many thousands of students should have to endure extreme financial difficulties, or be denied access to facilities, as they try to settle into their first year in college. Open days: l Qualifax, the National Learners' Database, is a great source of information about open days and other career events -- its website is www.qualifax.ie

• Today registration opens for MSAP -- the mature students' admissions pathway test for mature applicants to courses in UCC's College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, UCD's College of Arts and Celtic Studies and College of Human Sciences and NUI Galway's College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Mature applicants to some courses in UCD's College of Science and College of Agriculture, Food Science & Veterinary Medicine must also take some MSAP modules.

Details of the test are on ACER's website: www.msap.acer.edu.au. A mature applicant must be aged 23 years or over on the January 1 of the proposed year of entry.

• Also today, Letterkenny IT, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, hosts its open day from 9.30am-3pm. l Tomorrow, Pulse College, specialists in creative media courses, hosts an open evening from 5.30pm in its Windmill Lane campus at Ringsend Rd, Dublin 4. Places can be booked online at www.pulsecollege.eu, or by calling (01) 6685567.

• On Friday, IT Carlow hosts an open day from 10.00am-1.30pm in its main campus in Carlow.

• IT Tralee, Co Kerry also holds its open day on Friday from 9.30am-1.00pm.

• On Saturday, NUI Maynooth hosts an open day at its Kilkenny campus, College Road, Kilkenny from 12pm-4pm for applicants interested in First Arts.

• On Tuesday next, UCD hosts a Physics Open Evening from 6.30-8.30pm for fifth and sixth year students.

Irish Independent

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