Financial difficulties of students
Sir, – The findings of the latest Eurostudent survey (News, January 22nd) indicate that over a third of college students in Ireland are experiencing severe financial difficulties. This is the highest percentage of all the European states. According to the survey, postgraduate and undergraduate students in Ireland are now more reliant on financial support from parents or others than five years ago. Your article states that this is likely a symptom of the economic recovery, as it is suggested that parents now have greater means to support family members.
In reality, the cumulative cuts in third-level student grants imposed in 2011 and 2012 leave students with funding that is completely inadequate and needing to be supplemented through work, parental support or loans. For the average student eligible for support, the maximum maintenance grant payable is €3,023. If a student resides within 45km of their college, they will receive less than half of that figure – €1,215, most of which will be spent on the cost of the daily commute.
For postgraduate courses, many of which are now a requirement for professional recognition, the funding available is substantially less. There is no maintenance grant available for postgraduates, except for the most extreme financial situations. The maximum fee support available to the average eligible student is €2,000, whereas the fees to take a full-time master’s course range from €5,000 to €15,000. So taking up a place on a postgraduate course is an elusive prospect for those on lower incomes.
Our knowledge economy needs more skilled graduates with a higher level of degree attainment. But in our “republic of opportunity”, it seems that some students are afforded significantly less opportunity than others. – Yours, etc,