Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Flanagan Welcomes Progress on Monthy Student Support Payments

Published: 3 August, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has welcomed the launch of a public consultation by the Employment & Learning Minister Stephen Farry into the frequency of student support payments for full-time undergraduate students.

Mr Flanagan, who is a member of the Assembly's Employment & Learning Committee, has raised the need for students to receive their support payments monthly instead of tri-annually on many occasions over the last three years. He also recently launched a public petition calling for this policy change to be made.

Speaking today, the Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:

"At present, student support payments are paid in three instalments over the academic year, in October, January and after Easter.

"This makes it very difficult for students to budget and causes great financial distress to many people. No other section of our society would be expected to budget in such a way.

"I have raised this issue with Stephen Farry on a number of occasions in recent years, and every time I did, there was huge interest amongst the student population for this change to be made, so much so, that I launched a public petition, which gathered several hundred signatories in a very short period.

"I am hopeful that there will be widespread support for a change to a more frequent payment scheme and if it were, it would allow students to budget better and also prepare them for financial planning once they gain employment.

"More and more graduates are having to settle for low-paid, part-time or zero-hour contract jobs, reducing the availability of part time employment for current students.

"As a result many students have no financial support and are completely reliant on the income they get from their student loan or support payments to survive financially.

"I would encourage students, and young people considering entering a full-time undergraduate course in the future, to respond to this consultation.

"The consultation can be found online at https://consultations.nidirect.gov.uk/department-for-employment-and-learning/consultation-frequency-of-student-support-payments"