The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have called on the government to break the barriers to third level education.
In a statement, the USI criticised government ministers Joe McHugh and Mary Mitchell O’Connor for downplaying the accommodation and higher education funding crises.
“It is clear that our Ministers are out of touch with reality when it comes to student issues, a cohort that both Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Joe McHugh directly represent”, said the President of the USI, Lorna Fitzpatrick.
The USI, which represents over 374000 students across Ireland, are planning to put pressure on the government through planned action in Dublin in early October.
The USI called on both students and parents to support the action. They are encouraging people to contact local representatives to support Irish students in securing publicly funded education as well as ensuring student housing is made more affordable and plentiful.
Another key part of the USI’s demands are that the SUSI grant is increased to reflect the increasing costs of student life. In their pre-budget submission, they requested the government restore the grants to their pre-2011 rates.
“This Government has made no effort to recognise the crisis that has continued to unfold within its term, prices of accommodation have risen to the point of blatant unaffordability, the SUSI Grant no longer reflects the cost of student life between rent, groceries, books and bills, and our students are paying the second highest fees in the EU after the UK”, said Fitzpatrick.
The USI does welcome the government’s commitment to not introduce a student loan scheme however. According to the Governments National Access Plan, these schemes don’t meet the needs of society, and posed a threat to accessibility for underrepresented groups in education.
Image Credit: Union of Students in Ireland