Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane has warned that students who have lost summer work due to the pandemic may struggle to afford the cost of continuing their studies if they continue to be forgotten about by the government.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Major concerns were raised today by USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick about how the lack of summer work due to the pandemic will impact on students’ finances.
“Many students rely on income earned during the summer to be able to pay their tuition fees and rent for private accommodation.
“The pandemic has effectively ended any prospect of taking on summer work this year. As a result, many students will be pushed into a financially impossible situation.
“That should not be the case, but because of the inadequacy of other supports, it is an unavoidable fact.
“Students may not qualify for jobseekers’ payments and many also do not qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. In addition, we know that among those who do qualify for PUP, a considerable number are seasonal workers who may be put on the reduced rate due to working part-time during the year despite the fact that they would have worked full-time during the summer.
“SUSI is calculated based on 2019 income, meaning that recent drop in income incurred by the pandemic will not be factored in. This may delay may mean some students are put in the upsetting and unfair position of having to defer for a year, to receive the financial support which reflects the reality of their family’s finances.
“There is an urgent need to support students throughout the coming months to ensure that they can continue to go to college. No one should have their studies unfairly cut short because they have been forgotten about amid the financial fall out of the pandemic.
“To this end, we are seeking a contribution to the Covid committee next week from the USI so that we can address this with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.”