36 per cent of first year DCU students were in receipt of a grant last year, according to a report looking into the distribution of third level grants.
The report, the first of its kind, was carried out by the Higher Education Authority and looked into the proportion of students in Irish universities and Institutes of Technology who receive a SUSI grant.
The figures show a disparity between universities and ITs, indicating that the majority of college places are occupied by students from wealthier backgrounds.
Almost half of first year undergraduates were in receipt of a grant in the 2013/14 academic year but the average was 56% in ITs while 36% of university students were eligible. Letterkenny IT was at the higher end of the spectrum on 71% while just 24% of Trinity students needed financial assistance.
The HEA put the rural-urban divide down to Donegal having average incomes below the national level which would increase the likelihood of students going to Letterkenny IT being eligible for a grant while incomes in Dublin are higher, reducing the chance of students qualifying for SUSI.
Malcolm Byrne from the HEA told The College View that “the DCU figure of 36% is in line with the average among universities and is certainly higher than Trinity and UCD but is lower than NUI Maynooth or NUI Galway.”.
The HEA will launch a National Access Strategy soon to boost participation in third-level institutions amongst people from less well-off backgrounds and Byrne is adamant that students from any background should have third-level opportunities.
“The message needs to go out that finance shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to going to college. There are financial supports in place and especially in DCU, there is an excellent welfare service so for any student in difficulty, there is help available”.