To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the measures that have been put in place with regard to the improvements of the Student Universal Support Ireland system; if a guaranteed turnaround time for completed applications has been agreed; the measures that were put in place in 2012 and 2013 to ensure that staff are fully trained; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn T.D.
While it is acknowledged that there were significant difficulties in the
operation of the assessment processes last year, I am informed by Student
Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that, in preparation for the 2013/2014
academic year, both the on-line application system and the application
assessment process are being further developed to enhance their effectiveness
and efficiency and respond to experiences from year one.
For applicants applying through SUSI for the 2013/14 academic year, a number of
new initiatives will make their application more efficient this year. The
initiatives include direct information sharing between SUSI and Government
bodies and agencies including the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of
Social Protection, the General Register Office (GRO) and the Central
Applications Office (CAO). These links should reduce significantly the number
of documents required from applicants themselves.
In addition the staff resources recommended by the review have already been
sanctioned. The resources include three additional management posts and some 23
(whole time equivalent) additional processing staff. This will help to ensure
that qualifying students have their applications assessed as quickly as
possible. SUSI has also significantly developed its training programme to meet
the training needs of new and existing staff.
In addition, the closing date will be a month earlier to facilitate earlier
application and decision on a grant application. SUSI is working closely with
all third level institutions to improve the payment process for the 2013/14