Third level Limerick students struggling to stay in education

796
Cllr Séighin Ó Ceallaigh
Cllr Séighin Ó Ceallaigh

JUST a month into the new academic year, some third level students in Limerick are already struggling to stay in education.

According to Sinn Féin councillor for City East, Séighin Ó Ceallaigh, college students are already in financial difficulty. The 22-year-old public representative, who stood for election while studying at the University of Limerick, says he has been contacted by a number of students regarding their third level grants.

Criticising Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan for not confirming whether or not student fees would rise before Tuesday’s budget, Cmhlr Ó Ceallaigh also accusing her Labour Party colleagues of recycling the same old failed policies.

“Third level student fees have been constantly on the rise in recent years, having increased from €1,500 per year to €3,000 under Labour’s former Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, and now the fees may be set to rise again.

“I know first-hand how hard it is for young people and their parents to afford third level education. Some students have to work long hours in order to fund their education, and any more financial demands will drive even more of our young people abroad for either education or employment,” he warned.

He went on to point out that, under the current system, a household can take in a maximum of €40,000 in order to get a decent grant, and those from working backgrounds are left without a grant, without financial support from struggling parents, and without a fair chance at third level education.

“Not only are college, institute of technology, and university students under threat, but so are apprentices who are learning trades,” he added.

Twenty two-year-old apprentice Seán Lawlor from Lynwood Park agrees with Cmhlr Ó Ceallaigh’s standpoint.

“These new fees put me under a lot of financial stress during my training and I didn’t know if I could afford them. My exam results were withheld from me until they were paid, so I was uncertain of my future until I could manage to get the money together.

“All I want to do is get an education and to get a job. Luckily, I’m in my final year, but future students might not be able to afford this education,” he said.