STUDENTS who are taking part-time jobs may lose part of their third level grants, the chairman of Beara-Bantry Young Fine Gael has claimed.
Wayne O’Sullivan says he was unaware of the legislation, which came into effect this year, until he was approached by students worried about taking up part-time jobs.
‘From the 2016/17 academic year, BTEA (Back to Education Allowance Scheme) participants who take up part-time work within the academic year are assessed in accordance with their primary payment,’ he said. ‘Therefore students are being significantly compressed by new legislation and in the last couple of weeks and months I have been highlighting these issues to Minister Leo Varadkar’s office.’
Mr O’Sullivan said the situation was brought to his attention by ‘numerous young people that got in contact with me’. He outlined that this new legislation was limiting the vast majority of students availing of BTEA.
‘Now that this part-time work is being accessed, students will be more cautious about accepting work in fear that their upcoming grant will be impacted. With majority of our young people travelling to cities such as Cork and Limerick, it is understandable that people need to save for public transport costs, rent and day-to-day college living expenses. Due to the soaring rent prices, we need to start making college more affordable and easy to attend, not more difficult,’ he told The Southern Star.
‘In order to do this we need to reverse such implications by speaking up and demanding our voices be heard. This issue needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency’. He added that, with jobs still being difficult to source, especially in communities such as West Cork, government policy needs to show support for young people by investing into rural communities.
‘Accessing third-level college education is proving to be more and more difficult, with increasing college fees, rent prices and declining support from government agencies. College students from West Cork, both undergraduates and postgraduates, are being severely impacted by the cuts that are being opposed on them from the Department of Social Protection that outline the criteria for the Back to Education Allowance Scheme.’
He said we now need to protect the part-time labour that is essential to the West Cork thriving tourist economy. ‘Instead of making things harder for students, who have to travel farther distances than any other students in Ireland and therefore don’t live at home, it must be ensured that they have as much support as possible.’