The Union of Students has welcomed the publication of a report confirming the union’s long-argued contention that the falling value of the third level student grant is contributing to an increase in drop-out from college and abandonment of qualifications.
Laura Harmon, USI President, welcoming the publication of the report, said that the troubling findings are consistent with the arguments of the student movement over many years:
“The point of the grant is to provide support to those students who most need it – who don’t have the financial means to put them through a course of education. We’ve said for several years that the falling value of the grant puts more and more pressure on students to make ends meet.
Food, transport and accommodation prices have all risen in recent years, whilst the value of the grant has fallen in cash terms and against inflation.
We said many times that families and students were approaching a breaking point – and it’s clear from this report that that point has long been reached. A review of the effectiveness of current grant levels needs to be quickly undertaken.”
On the wider issue of student drop-out, she added:
“I very much welcome the chair of the Higher Education Authority’s desire to get to the bottom of student dropout – and USI will of course support his efforts with solid evidence and representation from across the country.”
High among the reasons for finance-related student drop out is the current crisis in securing student accommodation – and this seems to be on track to get far worse this year, as the rental shortage across the country seems to be concentrated in college towns and Dublin.