Scores of students face subsidy cut

A number of DCU students who receive subsidised accommodation provided by the DCU Access Service could have it revoked, The College View can reveal.

In an email received by some Access students last week, the students were informed that they may not be in a position to receive subsidised accommodation for the upcoming 2014/2015 academic year and will instead be offered a €1,000 scholarship.

The aim of the DCU Access Service is to support students who come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds by providing scholarships and subsidised accommodation for those who cannot afford it.

Some Access students who received emails regarding their subsidised accommodation for the next academic year spoke to The College View.

One student told of how he simply cannot afford to attend DCU if the subsidised accommodation provided by Access isn’t available to him next year.

“I have very little financial support from my mother and receiving the Access scholarship was such a relief as it ensured I wouldn’t have anything to worry about financially while at college,” he said.

“It seems like they’re prioritising 1st and 2nd years and trying to attract more people to the university. My circumstances haven’t changed and I need the scholarship to stay in college,” he added.

The service currently supports 700 students whose financial and social situation is thoroughly assessed. 70 on-campus rooms are allocated to Access students every year which are subsidised by the Access Service. Access students receive either 100 per cent subsidised accommodation, 50 per cent subsidised accommodation or a scholarship of €1,000 a year.

Another Access student, currently studying abroad on an Erasmus Programme which is a compulsory requirement on his course, received the same email regarding subsidised accommodation.

“I was sent an email saying that Access would not be in a position to offer me on-campus accommodation and that I would have to make my own arrangements. However, they did say that they could provide me with the €1,000 scholarship in lieu,” he said.

“My family’s circumstances have become worse since I entered college, my compulsory year abroad has cost more than I can afford.”

“The agreement we signed in first year states that we are entitles to the accommodation for the duration of our studies. They then changed the rules of the agreement saying that it would come under review every year,” he added.

Ita Tobin, Head of DCU Access Service told The College View they review every Access students’ financial details. “We check whether they receive a SUSI grant, a Student Assistance Fund and their financial situation at home,” she said.

“Each year we spend over €1 million helping these students, which is all privately funded,” she added.

DCU Access Service has a “critical” list where a number of students who are in great need of the service are top priority to receive help.

“It all comes down to our funding year by year and how the circumstances of an individual changes. Our aim is to help every student that needs us and that is exactly why we’re here, to help students,” Tobin said.

Tobin also stated that any student who is feeling under pressure is always more than welcome to talk to her or a staff member.

Finnian Curran

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