In late August the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) announced they had been successful in their bid to secure further funding for the Student Assistance Fund. The USI ensured €3 million would be added to the fund over the course of three years for students in part-time third-level education, with a further €7.5 million to support participation in higher education from areas with a traditionally low presence at third-level institutions.
USI President Michael Kerrigan allowed he was pleased with the further allocation, but noted that, while the Department of Education and Skill have clearly recognised the lobbying efforts of the USI, “the Student Assistance Fund requires a total of €12 million to meet the increased demand being placed on the fund by more applications each year.”
Mr Kerrigan continued, “USI is urging the Government to invest in other key supports like third-level mental health counselling, and to ring-fence €3m for student counselling and supports per annum. Mental health support is another key factor in retention for third-level, as 27% of students who used counselling services indicated counselling was a factor in their retention.”
The union will persist in campaigning on other crucial issues concerning students in the 2018 Budget. The USI demand that the Government explicitly exclude any potential income-conditional loan scheme, and decrease the Student Contribution Charge (currently at €3,000) by a minimum of €250. Their ultimate aim is the introduction of a €1.26 billion investment in higher education over the next ten years.
The Student Assistance Fund is a support fund, open in the 2017/18 academic year to all full-time EU students in higher education. It is distinct from the SUSI Student Grant, and often assists students who may not meet all the criteria for SUSI. The fund opens annually around October, and application forms will be available at that time.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty please contact the Student Budgetary Advisor at www.ucc.ie/en/studentbudget.