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Union of Students in Ireland expresses frustration as students ignored in Budget 2019 “We’ll see this Government at the ballot box.”

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has today expressed its anger and frustration as Budget 2019 again fails to deliver on the need for significant investment in third-level education and to alleviate the huge financial pressures students face across the country.

The announced expenditure by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is a missed opportunity to begin to rectify the failure of successive Governments after years of cuts and neglect across Higher and Further Education. Additionally, measures to address the housing and homelessness crisis have entirely failed to include the lack of accommodation for students that is affordable and of high quality.

Responding to the Budget announcement, President of USI, Síona Cahill said “Our students continue to face the second highest fees in Europe, haven’t seen any grant increases since they were cut during austerity years, and now face an unprecedented crisis in the availability of accommodation and in the quality of living standards.”

“The measures announced in this Budget for Higher Education amount to an abysmal investment of just €57 million, with almost half of that to address the pre-existing demographic bulge. Student numbers continue to increase while buildings continue to crumble.

USI is also extremely disappointed that the announced measures for the housing crisis, representing barely a drop in the ocean to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, and has not included the need for the immediate building of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) through capital investment grants to Higher Education Institutions.

Cahill noted that “6,000 students joined a 12,000 strong rally from across the country to demand a rent freeze and immediate regulation of a private rental sector that is seemingly out of control, and we also called for Government to commit strongly to the student body by investing in PBSA on campus at affordable rents. This Government have turned their back on those students in this Budget.”

USI successively campaigned against student loan schemes last year and have called for alleviation measures for students as the cost of living increases, including a €500 reduction in student contribution charge and investment in grants to ensure more people can access education.

Cahill called on the government to recognise their continued failure on third-level education and their refusal to alleviate pressure on students and young people: “This is a ‘no budget’ budget for students. This Government have decided who their electorate are, but we’ve registered 90,000+ students to vote in the last 5 years. They must be heard, and they’ll be heard at the ballot box.”

NOTES:

  • The Union of Students in Ireland has been working on the #EducationIs.. Campaign, calling for legitimate funding into Higher Education for over 5 years. So far no significant investment has been made.
  • USI launched the 2019 Pre-Budget Submission in June, 2018. Find it here: https://goo.gl/jDLL3D
  • USI represent 374,000 students across the island of Ireland, their ability to access fair and affordable education is at the heart of every elected officer.
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