Students with Disabilities Still Denied Scholarship

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Further and Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh has called on the government to end the unfair practice of removing disability supports from students who are awarded scholarships in third-level education.

I sincerely welcome the change in the regulation that allows talented individuals like Catherine and Muireann from Mayo to no longer have to choose between a scholarship and their disability payments. However, many other people with disabilities remain in this impossible situation of having to give up their scholarship in order to keep invalidity or blind pensions.

People with disabilities often have extra expenses and costs for a wide variety of reasons. The result is that every year, students with disabilities are forced to turn down hard-won scholarships that they deserve.

These scholarships are usually modest amounts of money that could in no way replace the vital government supports.

Most PhD students work part-time in order to get by as the stipend given as part of the scholarship is often far below minimum wage. This is simply not an option for many people with disabilities.

I am calling on Simon Harris as Minister for Further and Higher Education to work with his counterpart in Social Protection, Minister Heather Humphreys, to remove all of these barriers for people with disabilities in Higher to education as well as ensuring equality of access for SUSI grants.”

Only by doing this can the government live up to commitments made under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which entered into force 3 years ago.