College costs large factor in drop-out rates

One in twelve college students could drop out of third level education in Ireland due to the rising costs, according to a recent survey.

The average cost for a student to see themselves through the college year is likely to rise to over €1,000 for the coming academic year, as shown in the results of a survey carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU).

This amount is separate to essential expenses such as college fees, which stand at €2,500 this year, as well as accommodation rates.

Joe O’Connor, President of the Union of Students in Ireland, said the results of the survey were “startling” and that they highlight the “financial strain which higher education measures in recent years have caused to students and families across the country”.

Excluding rent and utilities, students spend an average of €516 per month on daily expenses such as food, mobile phone credit and travel.

The student grant, currently €84 per week, is the most common method of financial assistance used by students to fund their studies. Some 27 per cent of students surveyed stated eligibility for this weekly grant. This amount is barely sufficient to cover most weekly rent charges, especially in the larger cities.

Almost 20 per cent of students are supported financially by their parents. Over 80 per cent of parents are also struggling with the cost of third level education for their child.

The number of students with a part-time job has risen by over 10 per cent since 2011. Of the 66 per cent of students with a part time job, the average student works just over 18 hours a week to fund their college education, with 60 per cent of these students continuing to work all year round. This part-time work has caused 27 per cent of male students and 17 per cent of female students to miss lecture hours.

However, it isn’t a part-time job during college which is causing most students concern. Almost 40 per cent of college students say that their greatest concern regarding their education is the prospect of finding a job when they have completed their degree.

Fewer students believe that they will have to emigrate to find employment than in 2011, however, with a drop from 75 per cent of students willing to leave to 57 per cent.

Aoife Bennett

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Julien Jorge

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