36% of Irish students are suffering from serious or very serious financial problems, with mature students more likely to have financial issues than others, a Higher Education Authority (HEA) report has revealed.
The HEA’s report, part of an EU initiative, surveyed over 20,000 students at all degree levels in various higher education institutions in Ireland. Students were asked about their financial and accommodation issues, as well as how they found their course academically. The total average monthly income for students is €734, with rent (average €365, or €92 more for students in Dublin) being the highest cost on average. More than half of students’ income was provided by either family & friends or financial grants, like SUSI.
Students overall seemed satisfied with the education they were receiving. 75% reported that they felt they belonged in higher education, with most saying they would recommend their program to another student. The majority (54%) felt they understood what was expected of them from the beginning. 47% reported that they found their lecturers inspiring, with postgraduate students reporting more positive experiences. 20% of students reported having a disability, most commonly a learning or mental health disability.
Proportions of males and females in higher education are approximately equal; slightly more females were found in the areas of the social sciences, education, and humanities, whereas males were found studying engineering, maths, computer science, and sports and leisure. “This represents a very useful study into the social dimension of student life, and it will inform what measures we can take to ensure student success, which has so many dependencies,” Education Minister Mitchell O’Connel said in her announcement publishing the report. “A priority for me as Minister of State for Higher Education is to provide target groups outlined in the National Plan for Equity of Access 2015-2019 with more opportunities to go to college and have a world class positive student experience while there.”