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1 October 2010

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Fix the student grants system, says Ógra Shinn Féin

BY SEÁN Ó SÉ
University College Cork Sinn Féin, Martin Hurson Cumann

Education can be the bridge that narrows the ever-growing divide between rich and poor in Ireland

THERE are several problems with the grants system that Ógra Shinn Féin feels have to be addressed for education to become readily available to young people from every group in Irish society.
Immediate and proper funding is required to allow students to avail of the many diverse courses and subject available to them in the third-level system. However, a remedy is needed to fix the many problems that have been encountered when it comes to funding available to students.
Without the financial backing from either family or part-time employment it is almost impossible for students from a working-class background to achieve their goals. Poverty is a quicksand that sucks down the less-well-off and marginalised.
There is a grant system that lessens the burden of some students but the average grant for the year comes to €3,420 while student accommodation can cost up to €5,500 per annum. For many students to attend third-level they must either travel or find accommodation close to their place of study. On top of this, books must be bought and other costs must be met. According to research carried out by the Bank of Ireland, it costs over €42,000 to complete a third-level degree.
Apart from the clear disparity between the cost of education and the assistance that is provided by the state, there are the delays..
Some students have been forced to camp outside their respective council offices as it is their only hope that their grant application will be processed in time to allow them to pursue their studies. Students cannot afford to wait until February for a grant they were due to receive the previous September.
Education can be the bridge that narrows the ever-growing divide between rich and poor in Ireland. Ógra Shinn Féin believes that every young person in Ireland has not only the right to receive an education but also the right to make that education possible. Without a proper functioning grants system it is likely that many young people will fall by the wayside.
The Minister for Education and the Government should not allow this to happen.

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