Further detail on how and when the €250 payment for higher education students announced in Budget 2021 will be paid, is welcomed by the Union of Students in Ireland.
USI welcomes confirmation that the payment, which Government describes as compensation in recognition of the significant upheaval students have experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be available to all EU undergraduate and postgraduate students in the state.
However, the union is concerned that non-EU students who pay significant sums to Irish colleges and face high costs do not have access to the payment despite having a very different experience this year.
USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “This has been an extremely difficult year for students and a vastly different experience for everybody. Many students are facing extra costs, and everyone is facing extra stress and worry. This payment will go some way towards helping students pay for increased internet and technology costs as well as other costs of living. We are glad to see there will be multiple options available for students to receive the payment depending on their circumstances. However, we have concerns that students who do not wish to receive credit for services in colleges they are not spending much time in, will face with a difficult process or delays in receiving the money.
“We are very concerned that non-EU students do not have access to this €250 when they face huge costs and are getting nothing like the usual student experience in Ireland. Again we feel they are being treated like an income source rather than members of our college communities who bring so much to college life. It also needs to be ensured that all students are treated the same here and students in all higher education institutions receive the same payment. COVID-19 does not impact students differently, so it would unfair if students were treated differently.
“We welcome clarification that the payment [will not have any tax implications] (this advice appears to be outdated) and won’t have an impact on SUSI for next year, as it will not be treated as reckonable income. It is now vital that the processes for students to receive this payment are set up immediately to relieve a bit of the burden students currently face.”
How the €250 will be paid to students…
- If a student is in receipt of a SUSI grant, they will receive a €250 top up to that payment.
- Students who receive fees only SUSI will be contacted for their bank details so the payment can be made to them directly.
- If a student is paying fees in instalments, they can choose to have the €250 taken from their remaining balance.
- If a student has paid their fees in full themselves without SUSI, they can get €250 credit towards an on-campus services (e.g. gym, library etc.) or get a cheque.