More than 58% of students in Ireland are forced to miss meals to afford to stay in college, according to a recent survey conducted by the Union Students of Ireland (USI).
The national survey, which received over 870 responses, showed that 77% of students borrow, or have borrowed, money from friends or family to stay in college and more than a quarter of the people surveyed admitted to having gone to charities such as St. Vincent De Paul, among other food banks to obtain food.
With these figures already suggesting that there are a number of students struggling to afford to stay in college, the USI have criticized recent suggestions by the government to further increase the registration fee by more than €1,000.
“Increasing the registration fee beyond €4,000 is a ludicrous proposal,” said outgoing USI President Kevin Donoghue.
“Our research shows that more than half of students miss meals – they’re literally going hungry – so an increase of €1,000 annually will only worsen the situation.”
The USI said that these proposed increases will only plunge students further into poverty, disabling social mobility, and increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
“This suggested increase will deter young people from applying to college, which is already unaffordable for so many,” said Donoghue.
A paper prepared by officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for recently-appointed Minister Paschal Donohoe stated that the increase of €1,000 in registration fees would be insufficient to solve the funding gap in Third Level education, and an even greater increase is needed.
However, according to the Irish Times, the paper prepared for Minister Paschal Donohoe suggests that such a scheme, involving an increase in the present student contribution from €3,000 to €4,000 would ultimately fail as a solution to the funding crisis in higher education.
In addition, it argues that the scheme would be “socially regressive” by requiring all students, irrespective of their socio-economic background, to pay the registration fee.
Donoghue has called on the government to reconsider the proposed increase of registration fees, stating that “any Government that proposes raising costs in an area already crippled by cuts and high expenses is deluded and out of touch with the public”.
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