Rising rents push cost of college to €11,000 a year for some

Students who live at home face cost of about €6,800, according to annual DIT survey

The Dublin Institute of Technology’s annual cost-of-living guide shows that rent is now the single biggest cost for students living away from home. File photograph: Getty Images

The Dublin Institute of Technology’s annual cost-of-living guide shows that rent is now the single biggest cost for students living away from home. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Rising rents and other living costs means the cost of going to college for students living away from home will reach about €11,000 this year, according to latest estimates.

The Dublin Institute of Technology’s annual cost-of-living guide shows that rent is now the single biggest cost for students living away from home.

For students who live at home, the estimated annual cost of colleges this year will reach just over €6,800. The bulk of this cost includes the €3,000 student registration charges.

These estimates come in the same week as the publication of a major report into the future funding of the higher education system, which found the system of grant support was not enough to cover the cost of college.

It said the current model of student support maintenance grants should be enhanced to better reflect the real costs of participation.

In addition, these grants should be better targeted by taking account of capital assets and accumulated wealth.

Deterioration in situation

Brian Gormley, head of campus life in DIT, said the past five years have seen a deterioration in the financial situation of students.

In 2009, 45 per cent of undergraduates were satisfied with their financial situation.

This dropped to 33 per cent in 2013. However, more than 50 per cent of students reported in 2013 that they were in financial difficulty.

While rental costs are just below their 2007 peak, they are projected to reach those levels next year if current trends continue.

The next biggest overall cost is the student registration charge (€3,000), along with the cost of food (€1,548) and travel (€1,214).

Overall, average monthly rental costs for students living away from home are about €343, or €3,087 over the course of the year.

For students in Dublin, costs are higher still, at €462 for renting a single room, but reach more than €1,000 for a single bedroom apartment in the city.

Mr Gormley said a 10-year review of costs-of-living trends shows that expenditure on some key areas - social life and smoking - have decreased.

For example, mobile phone costs have stagnated over the past decade as students increasingly use free wi-fi and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook to communicate.

Food is another cost that has stagnated with low inflation and the advent of competition from chains such as Lidl and Aldi.

The annual food bill in 2006 for a student living away from home was €1,512, and now stands at €1,548.

Drop in smoking

Smoking appears to be a dying habit among students, with the number of regular smokers dropping from 15 per cent to 11 per cent over the past five years.

The amount spent by students on social life and entertainment has dropped significantly from over €1,000 per year to €666.

This is due mainly to the availability of cheaper alcohol in supermarkets and “pre-drinking” before going out, rather than drinking in pubs and nightclubs.

By contrast, the student registration charge, public transport and, more recently, rent have seen significant increases.

The student charge has ballooned from €800 in 2006 to €3,000 this year, while public transport costs for students have nearly doubled over the past decade from €720 to €1,215.

In the same period, the number of students using public transport as their main way of getting to college has halved from about a half to a quarter, with students more likely to walk, drive or cycle than they were a decade ago.

The survey shows there has been a significant drop in the number of students with part-time work in recent years.

Mature students

This, along with a reduction in financial support, particularly for mature students, shows that average incomes for students have dropped by 26 per cent between 2009 and 2013.

The number of students qualifying for higher education grants has climbed significantly over recent years.

Some 40 per cent have their student charge paid for by the Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi).

In the last academic year, Susi processed a record 108,000 applications, with in excess of 83,000 students awarded grants.

It is expected that the number of applications for the upcoming academic year will exceed 110,000.