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Kilkenny students receive highest rate of grant approvals

STUDENTS applying to Kilkenny County Council for grants to help fund their third-level education have the highest rate of approval of any area in the country. A total of 747 of the 762 applicants – approximately 98% – of student who applied to the Council for grants were deemed suitable for payment. Just 15 applicants to the County Council were denied a grant.

It has also emerged that Kilkenny County Council spent almost €67,000 processing grant applications for students enrolled in full-time third-level education this year.

The costs cover general administrative expenses incurred in processing applications, such as staffing, stamp duty and postage, but do not cover the amount of grant payments to successful applicants.

Kilkenny’s administrative costs of €113.95 per applicant were among the lowest in the country. Westmeath County Council spent just €70.51 processing each grant application, wihle North Tipperary accrued an average cost of €484.25 dealing with applicants.

The figures, obtained by UCD Students’ Union, were obtained under the Freedom of Information Acts. The union has been campaigning for the centralisation of the grant administration system, as was proposed under the currently stalled Student Support Bill.

Union president, Gary Redmond, said he found it “absolutely baffling how different local authorities can spend so much public money processing grants, comparied to others that can achieve the same results for cheaper.”

Redmond argued that a centralised system would be better suited to the needs of both student applicants and local authorities. “We need a complete overhaul of the grants immediately. It’s in the best interest of not only students, but the taxpayer too.

“As piloted in Dublin this year, all local authorities should pay grant installments directly into students’ bank accounts – this negates the cost of postage and stamp duty applicable to each cheque.”

Students can apply for third-level maintenance grants to either their local County Council or Vocational Educational Committee (VEC). VECs nationwide, which are exempt from Freedom of Information requests, declined to offer details of the cost incurred in dealing with applications made to them.