Student Universal Support Ireland, the third-level grant-awarding body, has said it is two months ahead of where it was this time last year regarding the processing of student grants for this academic year.

In a progress report published today, SUSI says more than 10,000 grants have already been awarded.

That is about 25% of the expected total.

Last year some students experienced significant problems because of major delays in the awarding of their grants.

This year the system is running more efficiently, according to SUSI.

As well as the 10,000 grants already awarded, a further 5,000 have been provisionally approved pending confirmation of acceptance of college places.

2,000 students have been asked to provide additional information, while 3,000 applications have been refused or cancelled.

SUSI says it is now beginning to process the 21,000 remaining applications.

It expects this process to be completed by the end of next month.