Tens of thousands of students walked out of lecture halls and classrooms across Ireland at 11.11am today, as part of a Union of Students in Ireland protest at the student accommodation crisis and the excessive cost of going to college.
Students left their classes and gathered with their local Students Unions officers on campuses to remind government and college authorities that students are not an endless money pit and to call for meaningful change in the way third-level education is funded.
Campuses across Ireland saw huge crowds gather as the vast majority of students in USI affiliated colleges and universities took part in the Student Walkout.
Commenting on the vast numbers shown in videos and photographs across social media today, USI President, Beth O’Reilly said USI wasn’t surprised by the numbers as the union is well aware of the depth of feeling on the issue.
Beth said: “The support for today’s Student Walkout is indicative of the number of students that are experiencing accommodation and financial problems across Ireland. It used to be a case that every student knew someone that was struggling, but now nearly every student is struggling themselves. Students needed to take this action today. We have been hearing how angry students are at the way they have been treated year after year, and today was an outlet for that anger.”
They continued: “USI has been talking constantly about how we have the worst student accommodation crisis ever and of the hardship that students are facing because of the soaring cost of living. And today students showed in huge numbers how bad the situation is. But this is just the beginning. Today was a show of force, but we will keep going until we see real change in the student accommodation crisis and in the extortionate cost of going to college.”
At the heart of today’s USI Student Walkout were six key demands for students. They are:
- Build affordable student accommodation
- Reduce rents
- Protect renters
- Abolish the Student Contribution Charge
- Fully & adequately funded public higher education
- Make the minimum wage the Living Wage – for all age groups