"Students forced out of college due to delays in student grants"
Longford Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has said students at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) have been forced to withdraw from college because of delays in access to student grants. Deputy Troy was speaking as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) steps up its campaign of protest against cuts to student grants, increases in student fees and the on-going crisis in the SUSI system. "Last week I attended a meeting organised by the Students' Union at AIT and I was horrified at some of the stories," said Deputy Troy. "Fr Shay Casey who is the Welfare Officer at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), told me there is no money left in the college's hardship fund and that he knows of students whose only food on a weekly basis is a bag of pasta and tomato ketchup as they wait for their grants. This is incredible and a serious indictment of Minister Quinn and his Government." "A student also contacted my constituency office to tell me he was withdrawing from college because he did not have access to college facilities and he could not pay his rent. Students are dropping out of college on a daily basis and the government continues to bury its head in the sand", Deputy Troy added. Students in AIT were joined by protestors in NUI Galway and GMIT last week as part of a nationwide campaign by the Union of Students in Ireland, which has already seen hundreds of students attend public meetings in Westmeath and across the country to voice their anger about the planned increase in student fees, the cuts to grants and the on-going crisis in the new SUSI system. "The palpable anger among students at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) is completely justified. Not only do they feel betrayed by the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and his colleagues, many of them are seriously worried about how they will now afford to stay in college. Far from reducing the cost of college as he promised he would do, Minister Quinn actually plans to increase the student registration fee by at least €1,000 within his term in office. He has also slashed grants, and he continues to preside over a deeply flawed grant processing system that has left thousands of students across the Midlands still waiting for their grants", said Deputy Troy.