The head of Ireland's institutes of technology has criticised the new centralised student grant system and has questioned the ability of the system to cope.

Chairman of the Institutes of Technology Denis Cummins said a lot of work needed to be done to regain confidence in the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) system.

Mr Cummins said: "I think we have concerns about the capacity of SUSI to cope, if in this first year when they are only dealing with one cohort of students they had issues around capacity.

"I think there's a lot of work to be done to regain confidence in the system."

City of Dublin VEC, which manages the third-level grant system in place this year, has said 1,500 more students will be paid their grants this week.

Union of Students of Ireland President John Logue said yesterday that the situation was so bad that food boxes have been set up in colleges around the country to help students still waiting for their maintenance grants.

The USI said around 5,500 students who have been processed are still waiting for their money.

Many more students are still waiting to find out if they have been approved for a grant.

The City of Dublin VEC has said that 3,000 students had still not provided their bank details or college registration confirmation, which was delaying their payments.