Two students supported by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have today (May 28th) served both the Minister for Education & Skills Ruairi Quinn T.D. and the Chief State Solicitor with notice that they intend to appeal the High Court verdict of Mr. Justice Hedigan in relation to cuts to student grants to the Supreme Court.
A number of students supported by USI had sought a Judicial Review in the High Court of cuts made to the Higher Education Maintenance Grant Scheme in Budget 2011. The cuts were applied to all students on the Maintenance Grant from September 2011 and so for students progressing into 2nd, 3rd or subsequent years the cuts were particularly catastrophic given that they had already made choices and spent a great deal of time and money on a course they may not now be in a position to continue with. These cuts affected some 25,000 families across the country with students on average loosing €1,700, however the most disadvantaged students lost up to €4,000 or 60% of their grant.
The students had sought the Judicial Review on two grounds; namely that they had a legitimate expectation that they would continue to receive the non-adjacent rate of the grant and secondly that the Minister had breached section 6 of the Student Support Act 2011.
USI President, Gary Redmond said: “Students across the country were bitterly disappointed with the High Courts Verdict last month and what it will mean for thousands of hard pressed families across the country who are struggling to keep the lights on and food on the table.
Based on strong legal advice we believe that Mr. Justice Hedigan was mistaken when assessing if the students had a legitimate expectation and in his interpretation of section 6 of the Student Support Act 2011 and on this basis we have decided to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.
This moves further demonstrates USI’s unswerving commitment to fight for access to education, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It was a disgrace that the previous Government would target the most vulnerable students for cutbacks on this scale, and a further indictment of the current Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn T.D. that he reneged on the Labour Party’s promise to reverse the cut once in Government.
Ireland’s economic recovery will be built on the backs of the future engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists that are currently studying to get their qualifications. These students have made enormous personal sacrifices to cope with the costs of education. Many thousands of these families are closely following this case, struggling on and taking on debt in the hope that the case would be successful and their grants will be restored.
USI again calls on the Minister to do the decent thing follow through on the pledge he made as Labour Party Education Spokesperson prior to the last election and reverse these cuts for students who were already in courses and allow them a fighting chance to complete their education and gain a qualification.”
For more information please contact
Gary Redmond, 087 9606130