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Updated figures published today by TU Dublin reiterate the need for urgent action to tackle the spiralling costs of going to college, according to the Union of Students in Ireland.

Reducing accommodation costs and the €3,000 a year Student Contribution Charge must be made a priority by Government as attending third level becomes a further financial struggle or not even an option for many people in Ireland, says USI President, Clare Austick.

Clare said: “We know going to college is extremely expensive in Ireland, with us having the highest fees in the EU, and these costs have been left to rise and rise in recent years. It was a huge challenge before COVID and now it is a crisis for many students and families. The figures published today are completely untenable. We cannot expect students or families to find this kind of money for three of four years in a row. Many students have lost part-time and full-time jobs over the summer months and throughout the year because of the pandemic. Additional stress and pressure will be placed on an already very demanding college experience.

“The Government needs to take a grip of the situation and immediately reduce the Student Contribution Charge. Universities and colleges also need capital investment to enable them to build and provide student accommodation, so they can have some control on the cost of accommodation for students. Students are completely caught up in the housing crisis and it is now impossible in many of our cities to find any sort of reasonable, affordable student accommodation.”

In its submission to the review of the Student Grant System that is currently underway, USI outlined how SUSI is not fit-for-purpose and excludes many students and potential students who need financial support.

Clare said: “The level of financial support given to students through SUSI was drastically cut in 2011 and has not been reinstated, despite soaring costs of living, particularly accommodation costs. We see people not being able to undertake study and many students living with financial hardship and poverty because of the lack of access to supports or supports not being at the level needed. Seeing the figures laid out in black and white today should bring home to many that this situation is at a crisis level and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”