Over 1,200 DCU students apply for the Student Assistance Fund for 19/20

Sally Dobie

At least 14,000 students applied for funding through the Student Assistance Fund for this academic year, resulting in the financial aide being “heavily oversubscribed”.

The HEA said in 2019, the Student Assistance Fund was allocated €9.1m in funding, €1m of which is intended for part-time students who are lone parents or members of identified target groups.

In DCU, around 1260 applications were received for the 2019-20 academic year, which is an increase of 250 from last year. 95 per cent of completed applications were successful, according to the DCU Student Assistance Fund Team.

Irish Times Education Editor Carl O’Brien wrote recently that education sources in individual colleges said  “funding in many cases has been heavily oversubscribed.”

For the 2017-2018 academic year, 14,000 students received funding from the SAF, including DCU students Lucien Waugh-Daly and Dylan O’Neill.

DCU BA student Lucien Waugh-Daly used the fund in his first year, before finding a part-time job. He was given €600 for the 2017-18 academic year to help with costs like rent, food, class materials and travel. “600 is basically a month’s rent for me so it was really helpful,” he said.

Waugh-Daly received the fund alongside monthly SUSI payments, and said while it’s good students are aware of the fund it’s unfortunate that it’s oversubscribed. “We shouldn’t need poverty funds in a wealthy country to put students through university,” he said, calling for the SUSI grant to change so more students are eligible.

Journalism Masters student Dylan O’Neill also received the fund, but was disappointed at how little financial help he received. “I was only given €425,” he said, “which surprised me given that at the time I submitted my bank statement, I thought it showed how in need I was of the full assistance.”

O’Neill said although he was grateful for the fund, he said it did not even cover a month’s rent, and combined with seeking employment and being given an unpaid INTRA internship, he said he was scared he wouldn’t be able to afford his living costs during his placement.

“When DCU don’t fight for better… it gives the message that they are so concerned with statistics of getting graduates into employment, they don’t realise that for the majority of students that initial period where they work for free is unfeasible to survive.”

Eight universities, 11 institutes of technology and seven other colleges participate in the fund, including DCU.

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Flickr