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Single agency being created to manage student grants

The education ministry said on Thursday it would continue to allocate student grants on existing criteria for this year, covering the academic year 2014/2015, but that new procedures would be put in place for the 2015/2016 term.

Last month Education Minister Costas Kadis proposed reducing the number of students receiving a grant, which irked student bodies and opposition AKEL. The bill proposes lowering the income-based ceiling set for those entitled to grants.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the ministry said that for this year the procedure would remain the same for now but added that plans were in the works to streamline the process in time for the next academic year, starting in September.

The new process will involve the creation of a single agency for managing student grants and would help, with the participation of stakeholders, to finalise the draft legislation for a new ‘single application’ procedure, and the criteria to be used.

“The single agency/authority will be responsible for managing all educational benefits as of the academic year 2015-2016,” the ministry said.

It said in relation to the current academic year, the Cabinet on Tuesday had given the greeb light for grants to be issued for students at home and abroad under the same criteria as the academic year 2013/2014. They will cover students at the University of Cyprus, the Technological University (TEPAK), state higher education institutions such as the Higher Hotel, plus five private universities; Frederick University, the European University, University of Nicosia, Neapolis University and the UCLAN University.

The student grant was among the first benefits slashed due to austerity measures. While in the past the state would give an across-the board  €2,550 to each student, with an additional €850 if the student came from a large family, restrictions were put in place so that students from wealthy families would no longer receive the grant.

The amount of the grant is now based on each applicant’s individual needs.

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