Hundreds of students from across Ireland took to the streets of Dublin today, demanding the Government use its €65 billion ‘rainy day’ fund to tackle the student accommodation crisis and soaring cost of going to college.
Union of Students Ireland (USI) says that while Government intends to hoard €65 billion in the ‘rainy day’ fund, it is raining now for third-level students who are suffering financial hardship or dropping out of college due to the lack of affordable student accommodation and other costs.
USI President, Chris Clifford said: “Ireland’s budget surplus is expected to reach €65 billion in the next two years. It’s inexcusable that students couch-surf, commute long distances, and have no hope of a future in Ireland while government has the capacity to fund that future. A long-term investment in the unstable higher education sector is an option for government right now. Finance can no longer be used as the excuse, but rather it’s down to the priorities of our politicians.
“We looking for €2.7 billion for the future of this country, so that’s to target publicly built student accommodation, to target the contribution fee,” Mr Clifford said. “Education is a right not a privilege.”
“Students and other sectors of Irish society are in crisis now. Government talks about having a reserve ‘rainy day’ fund, but we are drowning. Or will it just be a ‘rainy day’ for Government when the banks need bailing out again?”
“It’s inexcusable that students couch-surf, commute long distances, and have no hope of a future in Ireland while Government has the capacity to fund that future.
In its pre-budget submission, the USI has called for a further €1,000 reduction in college fees. This would bring the total fees for all students to €1,000 for 2023/24.
The group has also called for the introduction of a national rent freeze, as well as for an expansion of the youth travel card to 24 years old.
Photos Tommy Clancy
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