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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is calling on the government when considering water charges at today’s Cabinet meeting, to provide relief on water charges for already financially burdened student tenants. USI want to ensure that charges do not get passed on to student tenants directly or indirectly. The government should now move to ensure unintended consequences in compromising Higher Education access do not come about via the introduction of water charges.

Further financial pressures in the form of increased taxes and charges should not be the ‘final straw’ in making higher education financially inaccessible for students and families. If the burden of water charges is eased on households via social welfare payments, this should be extended to the BTEA (Back to Education Allowance) and the maintenance grant scheme.

Furthermore, special/extended relief should be considered for those in receipt of the ‘top-up’ rate of grant (exceptionally low incomes), and for households with multiple children in Higher Education.

USI believe an impact assessment study on increasing household charges for students and families within Higher Education is required by the government to aid future decisions.

USI President Joe O’Connor said:

“There is an ever increasing gap between the cost of college which numerous reports have now shown to be over €10,000 per annum, and declining student supports.

Students and their families have been hit hard the past number of years with a number of taxes and cuts, the introduction of yet another charge to pay without any relief will drive many out of higher education and into the dole queues or out of the country altogether.

We are calling on the government not to saddle students and families with additional costs that could further block the road to higher education”.

For further information contact USI Communications and Research Executive, Gráinne O’ Reilly on 087 6776636 or email media@usi.ie

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