Students left wanting by Budget

Budget 2016 did little to address the needs and issues facing third level students.

In late September the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched their pre-budget submission for Budget 2016 which called for: an increase to the student assistance fund (SAF) to combat a shortfall in funding; the re-introduction of grant support for postgraduate students and the scrapping of cuts made to the family income threshold for maintenance grants.

The submission also called for government to create a student housing strategy and to address the cost of rent. The Housing Strategy would have complemented the ‘Construction 2020 Strategy’ announced by the Government in 2014. Rent has risen 8.2 per cent nationally since last year and even more so in cities such as Dublin and Galway with high student populations.

In Budget 2016 the only mention of third level education was that an extra €3 million will be allocated to the SAF to help support disadvantaged students.

According to the USI pre-budget submission, the average cost of third level education is estimated to be €11,000 per annum. Some 38 per cent of all students in higher education receive a grant. There has been a recorded 40 per cent decrease of spaces in third level education compared with this time last year.

Glen Murphy

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