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.
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.