More than €17 million is being provided to help third-level students in financial difficulty, in recognition of the “incredibly difficult” year and a half many have endured, and continue to face with spiralling accommodation and utility costs.
The Student Assistance Fund will help full- or part-time students with costs such as books and class materials, rent and utility bills, food, essential travel, childcare costs and medical costs. Students in difficulty can apply for assistance through their college's student welfare offices.
Announcing the fund, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris also committed to an extra €5 million for student mental health services.
“Students have endured an incredibly difficult 18 months due to Covid-19. They are now back on campus but they still need significant support – financial and other,” Mr Harris said.
“This additional funding will enable the continued provision and enhancement of student counselling services and the rollout of innovative mental health and wellbeing supports for students and training for staff.”
Among the students to benefit from the fund will be those attending University College Cork, which last week revealed it was opening a food bank for struggling students. It will receive €1,269,997.
Among the 27 other beneficiary third-level institutions are Technological University Dublin, which will receive the highest amount under the fund (€2,085,346), followed by UCD (€1,413,923), UCC and NUI Galway (€1,247,332). Trinity College Dublin will receive €966,375.
Twenty third-level institutions will benefit from additional funding for mental health services, including TU Dublin (€564,000), UCD (€429,000) and UCC (€375,000). Trinity will get an additional €307,000.