By Daniel McConnell
Up to 200,000 third-level students, including postgraduate students, will receive a €250 payment before Christmas, as part of a Covid payment scheme to be announced on Thursday.
With most students forced to remain at home as campuses remain closed, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris will announce a €50 million once-off Covid payment scheme for third-level students.
The funding, which was provided in Budget 2021, will offer financial assistance to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in recognition of the significant upheaval they have experienced due to pandemic.
The scheme will ensure students who avail of the Susi grant will receive €250 top-up in their grant before Christmas, while students who do not avail of the grant can reduce by €250 any outstanding contribution fee payment or receive a €250 credit note for their institution.
In a number of cases, alternative arrangements will be made for the payment of the monies to students, it has been confirmed.
This scheme is in addition to the €15 million secured for IT supports, the €10 million for access supports and €3 million in support for wellbeing and mental health.
Mr Harris also confirmed he will meet on Thursday with the presidents of all third-level institutions to discuss college life in 2021.
“Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for the economy and for people across the country. My department will help people who have lost their job get back on their feet,” he said.
“Budget 2021 will see a total investment of €118.5 million to upskill and reskill people who have been affected by the impacts of the current pandemic and train in the skills of the future, particularly the climate agenda.
“The investment will be aimed at those that require it the most, whether that is to assist with seeking employment or to upskill in their current jobs.
For students, this year has been like no other.
“The majority of college will be online for this semester and we will provide financial assistance through a €50 million fund,” he said.
Education minister Norma Foley has also said that about €500 million is being invested in keeping schools open and supporting ICT and remote learning. She also confirmed €55 million in minor works grants for primary and post-primary schools will be paid in early December.