High costs are forcing students to drop out of college

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Student unions are claiming that a growing number of students are not completing their courses because of the costs of studying.

College fees, books and equipment as well as high rents and transport costs are making studying increasingly expensive.

UCD students’ union education officer Robert Sweeney told The Irish Times that costs are preventing students completing their third-level education.

“Students have come in who have said they can’t afford to go back to college. They have fees that they are already carrying over from last year that they haven’t been able to pay off, or exam repeat fees.

“People get really depressed about it, because they find they’ve got the Leaving Cert points, they’ve made their way into college, and then to be forced to take the year out – students get very despairing,” he said.

College fees second highest in Europe

Irish students pay a contribution charge of €3,000 a year. This is the second highest in the Europe. Only England and Wales are more expensive.

In addition, many colleges also charge students to repeat an exam.  The costs vary widely. Trinity does not have repeat fees, while at Maynooth University repeats cost a minimum of €50. However, UCD charges a fee of €230 per module to retake an exam.

Skyrocketing rent costs

Private or college run accommodation is one of the biggest expenses facing students. NUI Galway currently charges €5,000 for student accommodation from September to May. DCU charges €6,200, while standard rooms at UCD cost €6,700 for the term. Trinity has off-campus accommodation in Rathmines for €5,500.

Private accommodation can be even more costly. In some cases, students are paying up to €250 a week.

SVP assisting students

Tricia Keilthy, of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP), said the charity assists hundreds of students each September. The charity contributes financially towards the cost of fees, accommodation or books.

“The increase in the student contribution to €3,000 and cuts to the maintenance grant in 2012 have put third-level education further out of reach for many people,” she said.

All of Ireland’s seven universities have means-tested financial assistance funds to help students. However, it seems there is simply not enough money to go around or too many people in need simply don’t qualify.

Anne Sexton

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