Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh TD has said the reopening of a food bank in UCC is a “stark example of the hardship many students enduring trying to get a third-level education”.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“Students and families are under severe financial pressure. Whether it’s the fees, transport, or accommodation, the cost of studying is crippling most ordinary workers and families.
“A decade of under-funding of third-level education has pushed more and more costs onto students, and has commercialised many aspects of higher education and college life.
“We have seen alarming reports and research in the past about the level of food insecurity among students, with very high numbers skipping meals to reduce costs.
“We cannot allow higher-education to become a luxury which is only accessible to students from wealthy families. Everyone should have a right to continue their education if they wish, regardless of their family’s bank balance.
“The cost of going to college has spiralled in recent years and is only getting worse. There is a cost of living issue right across our society and it can have a huge impact on equality of access to third-level education.
“We need to end the situation where students here pay the highest fees in the EU.
“The Minister needs to also look at increasing the student assistance fund, expanding SUSI to more families, and increasing the maintenance grant to reflect the cost of living to immediately address the cost of living crisis which faces so many students.
“Another key reason why the costs are so high is that rents are astronomical. Under Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the housing crisis has gripped the country and politicians have failed to act.”