DCU students and DCU SU reacted differently to today’s budget, which saw the first increase in Ireland’s expenditure since 2009.
SU President Kenneth Browne was positive, but stopped short of calling the budget perfect.
“You can never really be too happy with it,” said Browne: “There’s still a funding crisis. We’ll be looking for the grant to be increased in future years because students are still struggling, things haven’t changed.”
Browne continued: “We’ll also be campaigning for a reduction in student fees, that’s the main goal… Ireland still has the second highest third level fees of any EU country.”
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s announcement did not give third level education as much good news as it did to other areas, but Browne said he was “quite content” the Government did not make any cuts to schemes such as the grant and the back-to-education allowance after students protested to protect them last week.
“We were happy the things we were campaigning for were protected. There was a lot of work put into that,” said the SU President.
Meanwhile, smokers can expect to see the price of 20 cigarettes increase by 40c, while roll-your-own tobacco will go up by 20c per 25g pouch. Browne didn’t see this as a bad thing, and favoured it over targeting a wider group like alcohol-drinkers.
“I don’t think cigarettes do anyone any good. Tax cigarettes until people give them up or until they’re not as accessible any more,” said Browne.
But some DCU students disagreed. “This is the first I’ve heard of it and I think it’s so ridiculous” said one girl: “(The government) thinks that because it’s bad for you you should have to pay more.”
Law student Caoimhe Morris also thought the government could do more to help students: “When my sister went to college she paid way less than I do. I just think that shows college could be cheaper.”
The budget helped lower income households the most. Along with extensive restructuring to the Universal Social Charge (USC) that saw the entry level rise to just above €12,000 (a €2,000 increase), social welfare recipients will also get a 25 per cent bonus at Christmas.
After water charges were introduced this month, the Government announced a scheme subsidising some 53,000 households by up to €100.
A dividend will also be paid for families going from the live register into employment.
Families with young children will be happy with the €5 increase to child benefit and the announcement that there will be 1,700 new teaching positions created.
In addition, money will be set aside for more Gardaí while the civil service will also resume recruitment in 2015.
For more announcements, and to see how the budget played out on our liveblog, click here.