Speaking following a report published by the Higher Education Authority yesterday on student progression rates in third level, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has called on the Government to pay heed to their findings that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds find it harder to stay on at third level.
Deputy O’Brien said:
“We didn’t need a report from the HEA to show us that students are dropping out of college because they can’t afford to stay in it.
“But now that the HEA has published the report, which we welcome, the government needs to pay heed to its findings.
“Students from farming and higher socio-economic groups are more likely to remain in third level than those who are struggling with their financial situations.
“Universities have come a long way in recent times, through introducing access programmes for disadvantaged students but this simply isn’t enough.
“Students are being deprived of an education because they can’t pay their rent.
“Further to this, SUSI has a rigid set of rules with no element of flexibility meaning there are groups of students, such as those who are estranged from their parents, or in non-traditional family units, or who took a break in their education, meaning that they are assessed on the incomes of people they have no contact with.
“The grant in itself is completely insufficient but students are just desperate to hang on to it.
“I am calling on the Minister for Education to address the failures of this system in order to ensure that there is equality in our education system.”