Large number of students skip meals in order to afford to attend college

More than 58% of students in Ireland are forced to miss meals to afford to stay in college, according to a recent survey conducted by the Union Students of Ireland (USI).

The national survey, which received over 870 responses, showed that 77% of students borrow, or have borrowed, money from friends or family to stay in college and more than a quarter of the people surveyed admitted to having gone to charities such as St. Vincent De Paul, among other food banks to obtain food.

With these figures already suggesting that there are a number of students struggling to afford to stay in college, the USI have criticized recent suggestions by the government to further increase the registration fee by more than €1,000.

“Increasing the registration fee beyond €4,000 is a ludicrous proposal,” said outgoing USI President Kevin Donoghue.

“Our research shows that more than half of students miss meals – they’re literally going hungry – so an increase of €1,000 annually will only worsen the situation.”

The USI said that these proposed increases will only plunge students further into poverty, disabling social mobility, and increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.

“This suggested increase will deter young people from applying to college, which is already unaffordable for so many,” said Donoghue.

A paper prepared by officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for recently-appointed Minister Paschal Donohoe stated that the increase of €1,000 in registration fees would be insufficient to solve the funding gap in Third Level education, and an even greater increase is needed.

However, according to the Irish Times, the paper prepared for Minister Paschal Donohoe suggests that such a scheme, involving an increase in the present student contribution from €3,000 to €4,000 would ultimately fail as a solution to the funding crisis in higher education.

In addition, it argues that the scheme would be “socially regressive” by requiring all students, irrespective of their socio-economic background, to pay the registration fee.

Donoghue has called on the government to reconsider the proposed increase of registration fees, stating that “any Government that proposes raising costs in an area already crippled by cuts and high expenses is deluded and out of touch with the public”.
Paul Dwyer

Image Credit: Huffington Post

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New digs licence agreement published by Students’ Union

“The agreement will ensure transparency and protection to students who often don’t know their rights."

A new licence agreement has been published by DCU Students’ Union for students living in digs, which will inform them of their rights on issues such as rent reviews, deposits, cost of meals and insurance. 

The agreement outlines how much the student will pay to the landlord each month, the deposit amount, cost of meals, rent review, contents, insurance, whether they may have pets, whether they can live in the property during weekends, their minimum notice period, what areas of the house they may use, and household costs, amongst other things.

All DCU students received an email from outgoing DCUSU Welfare Officer, Domhnaill Harkin explaining the licence agreement which was drawn up by the SU’s solicitors.

“This agreement will ensure our students now have legal protection when they live in digs, if disputes ever arise over issues such as rent payment, notice to leave or other issues,” Harkin told The College View.

The agreement now gives students full legal protection. However both the student lodger and the landlord must sign the agreement for it to be deemed valid

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DCU offers new programme for retirees

The programme will contain core elements as well as optional activities that aim to reflect the unique interests of the group as a whole in addition to each individual’s personal interests.

Dublin City University has launched a new programme aimed at engaging the talents of retired and soon-to-be retired professionals who are seeking new challenges into the latter stages of their careers.

The Advanced Transitions Programme will offer a combination of academic, personal and professional activities with the aim for its participants to realise an engaged and purposeful stage in later life through vitalising their skills, knowledge and expertise.

An initial pilot-programme will seek 25 participants in order to combine their expertise into a dynamic and engaging community at the college. A week-long programme ‘Ignite’ will introduce participants and explore their personal motivations for taking part where they will be questioned about their current plans and what they aim to achieve through the programme.

The outcome will provide a personalised plan as to how each individual will engage with the range of activities offered in the programme.

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USI calls for reversal of mental health cuts

USI says that the diversion of funds for mental health risks lives. Credit: Rebecca Lumley

The Union of Students in Ireland hosted a photocall outside Leinster house on Monday in protest of cuts to the 2016 mental health budget, which had originally ring-fenced €35 million for the sector.

USI members acted out scenarios which highlighted the €12 million cut, with one member wearing a Leo Varadkar mask seen taking a large bag of money from the promised funds, enclosed by a white fence.

A number of students from Trinity College Dublin held signs baring the message, “prioritize mental health” as well as the campaign’s social media slogan, #IAmAReason.

The outgoing USI president, Kevin Donoghue, said the focus of the event was to show that the Government was breaking their pre-election promise by diverting the ring-fenced funds.

“I think it highlights two things. First of all, the term “ring-fenced” is now meaningless in politics and secondly, the government, from our perspective anyway, don’t take the issue of mental health seriously enough,” he said.

“At what point can we trust our politicians to spend money where they say they’re going to spend it?”

The decision was originally made by incoming Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, who was replaced last week by Simon Harris as Minister for Health. The USI has said they will now appeal to him on the issue.

“We would be asking for him to evaluate the decision and evaluate the thought that went into that decision and ideally speaking, reverse it,” Donoghue said.

“If not, maybe we could talk about what other areas of mental health we could support with that €12 million.”

Donoghue has written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Micháel Martin and Simon Harris requesting a meeting to discuss the diversion of the funds, as well as the current situation regarding mental health services in Ireland.

Rebecca Lumley

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DCU plan €230m expansion to its four campuses

Dublin City University.

Dublin City University has announced a €230 million capital development plan which will see infrastructural improvements and an expansion across its four campuses over the next five years.

The plans will see the student body grow by 16,000 with the development of further on-campus accommodation, a new student centre, modern digital teaching spaces and a larger capacity in research and innovation.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, managed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has committed long-term funding of €54m to the plan.  The funds will be used to specifically target student accommodation projects.

The Fund has voiced an appetite to raise up to an additional €66m, subject to the proposed project investments meeting its dual mandate of commercial return and economic impact.

The European Investment Bank has provided a €76m loan to DCU for the project.

The investments will allow for the upgrade of facilities on the All Hallows Campus and construction of more student accommodation.

It will facilitate the construction of two new floors on the F Building on the St. Patrick’s College campus, providing additional capacity in view of the incorporation of St. Pats, Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education into DCU.

The Glasnevin campus is to see many structural changes in the coming years, with plans to buy-back existing campus residence and undergo construction of 560 on-campus student accommodation. This will bring the the overall on-campus accommodation capacity to 2,200.

Amongst other plans for the Glasnevin campus is the rolling out of an IT transformation and teaching equipment renewal programme, extensions to the Stokes and Lonsdale Building, providing more lecture theatres, the refurbishment of Albert College as well as a new 3,000 square meter Nano-Bioanalytical Research Facility.

While construction of a new Student Centre for students’ social, cultural, global engagement and entrepreneurial activities is to commence this summer.

DCU President Brian MacCraith said that the announcement “heralds the commencement of a massive transformation project for Dublin City University” which will see the extension of DCU’s geographical footprint in North Dublin.

“As Ireland’s fastest growing university, DCU is committed to developing an environment which will shape the critical thinkers and problem-solvers of the future,” he said.

“We can now fully embark on this ambitious programme of development which will not only advance our mission of excellence in education, research and innovation but also enhance the DCU student experience of a growing student body which will number 16,000 on completion of incorporation of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education in September this year,” MacCraith added.

Hayley Halpin

Image Credit: Ross Kavanagh

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