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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has welcomed the Government’s decision not to cut the student maintenance grant any further this year.

USI President Joe O’Connor said: “This budget marks a turning point. After four cuts to the maintenance grant in four consecutive budgets, the Government has accepted that struggling students and families can take no more.

“Minister Quinn and the Government have listened to students across the country who told them clearly that cuts to the maintenance grant would force students to drop out.

“Throughout our campaign we have highlighted the fact that education is a public investment, not public spending. The maintenance grant, meagre as it is, allows those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to attend third-level, to earn a degree, to have improved career prospects and contribute to our economic recovery.

“In our pre-budget engagement with Minister Quinn and TDs from all parties, there was an acknowledgment across the board that third-level graduates will be the drivers of our economic recovery. The decision to protect the grant recognises this.

“While this budget reconfirms that the Student Contribution Charge (SCC) will increase again this year as outlined by Minister Quinn in Budget 2012, we will continue to campaign for this fee to be benchmarked against economic recovery and reduced to pre-crisis levels.

“Today the student grant and the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) have been protected which is an encouraging sign that the government is listening to what people have been pressing for, education that gets people back to work. The campaign to ensure equality of access and equality of opportunity in our third-level system goes on.”

Download the USI Guide to Budget 2014.

For more information contact USI Communications and Research Executive Grainne O Reilly on 0876776636 or 019052100

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