Date Uploaded: 19/08/2016
The Government should take the advice of experts who have recommended increases in the amounts paid in college grants, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) said.
USI president Annie Hoey was responding to the figures from the Irish League of Credit Unions which suggest 60% of parents are getting into debt to fund their children’s third-level education.
She said this reflects how desperate families are to get their children into higher education because they know it provides the key to a brighter future.
“It’s a win-win. If politicians prioritise education, they will have a better, stronger workforce able to earn more, in higher tax brackets.
And they will also gain the support of the people who vote them in. Prioritising education is prioritising the needs of the people,” she said.
Ms Hoey said increasing grants, as recommended to Government in the recent report of a higher education funding group chaired by Peter Cassells, would help young people and their families avoid debt.
So too, she said, would reducing the €3,000 fee which all third-level undergraduates must pay unless they qualify for a grant.
Around half of all third-level students are now eligible for grants, meaning the cost of close to €400m a year has not been falling despite the cuts in the amounts paid, and changes to some of the eligibility criteria for higher payments which were made during the recession.
The Cassells report’s recommendations included significant increases, due to the inadequacy of grants in meeting the growing costs of college education.
A Dublin Institute of Technology guide last month showed rents are back near their 2007 peaks, while there is also a growing crisis for students trying to find affordable accommodation, particularly in the capital and in other cities and towns with large third-level campuses.
On Monday, more than 50,000 people will be offered places on courses at over 40 colleges when the first main round of offers for this year is made by the CAO.
The round 1 cut off points for entry to all CAO courses will be listed in the 12-page ‘Choices for College’ supplement in Monday’s Irish Examiner.
Journalist: Niall Murray