October 5, 2023
Minister must address growing crisis in Further Education

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has today called on the Government to address the crisis students face in accessing further education and student accommodation.

Speaking in response to yesterday’s USI protest, Senator Warfield said:

“Education is a basic and fundamental right that should be available to everyone on the basis of full equality. There should be no barrier, such as contribution fees or other charges, that hold back anybody who wants to access further education.

“However, more and more young people are finding themselves locked out of education. This government’s lack of planning, funding, and resourcing is having a very real impact on young people’s education and the career opportunities available to them.

“We now have an increasingly two tiered and classist education system whereby those who can afford student contribution fees and extortionate rents can avail of further education. By contrast, those who can’t must either face long and often unsustainable daily commutes that impact on both their education and experience of college, or forego it entirely.

“One of the key barriers to education is the student contribution fee that many young people and their families are being asked to pay.

“Sinn Féin are calling on the government to commit to a schedule of reduced fees in Budget 2024 and the subsequent abolition of fees in 2024 – 2025.

“The government must also address the crisis in student accommodation.

“We need a new model of delivery of student accommodation with affordability at its core. Supply without affordability will either price people out or force them to go into debt just to keep a roof over their head.

“Providing affordable student accommodation begins with determining what is in fact affordable in a student context and developing and delivering an affordable student accommodation model.

“We also still have a frightening lack of regulation when it comes to Rent-a-Room Schemes or “digs”.

Students are far too often faced with situations where they have little to no access to facilities, insufficient privacy, and no recourse to the Residential Tenancies Board in case of dispute. delay.

“Sinn Féin are calling on government to protect people living in Rent-A-Room schemes or digs and introduce regulations without delay.

“Government must listen to our young people and their families and address this issue with the immediacy it deserves. Budget 2024 must not be another missed opportunity.” 

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