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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI)  has today welcomed the re-introduction of the grants for postgraduate students at third level. The SUSI grant system opened for applications for 2017/18 academic year on the 3rd of April.

Speaking at the THEA launch on Monday, USI President Annie Hoey said “USI has campaigned consistently for the re-introduction of postgraduate supports and we are glad that the Government has listened to us and brought back supports for those in postgraduate education. We have campaigned solidly on this issue since the grant was abolished in 2012 and have lobbied TDs across all parties for this to be a key priority for the programme for Government agreed during the formation of the 32nd Dáil”.

However, Hoey also said that more had to be done on the issue. “This is a good first step, but it is only a first step, the Government cannot rest easy. It is crucial that we invest in our postgraduate students so that they have the resources and supports they need to complete their studies” she said. The postgraduate grant was removed by the Government in 2012 in order to save €50 million per year. The move was criticised heavily at the time by many groups including USI. The decision resulted in a 5% reduction in the number of students applying for postgraduate courses.

The postgraduate grant, which will be available for postgraduate students entering college in September 2017, was announced in Budget 2018 and came after a prolonged campaign by USI on the issue. The programme for a Partnership Government contained a commitment “to increase support for postgraduates with a particular focus on those from low income households.” The grant is one of a number of changes designed to support the most vulnerable groups enrolled in third level education. The postgraduate grant, worth almost €6,000, will be made available to students in the lowest income category.

USI President Annie Hoey also called on both undergraduate and postgraduate students to apply early for their grants to avoid delays next year. “Now that the application process is open students should make sure to get theirs in early.” “The last thing you want is to be without a grant or news of your grant come September because you didn’t apply on time” she stated. She also had advice for students who were having difficulty in their application process, “If you are struggling with the application call into your Students’ Union or call the SUSI helpline. There are people there to help if you are having any problems.”

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