Third level students have been asked to ‘tell their story’ by filling out an online survey on the grants system.
The Sinn Féin survey was launched after the party called for Further and Higher Education to be made accessible and affordable to everyone irrespective of their age, geography or financial circumstances.
Mayo TD Rose Conway-Walsh said that part-time students must be eligible to apply for SUSI grants.
“If these elements were changed to enable access to SUSI, then the hardship endured by thousands of students and their families would be eased,” she said.
“We are campaigning to have these and other issues addressed.”
Galway East’s Sinn Féin spokesperson Louis O’Hara said that many students and families are facing enormous difficulties paying for the high costs of third-level education and are being pushed into poverty as a result.
“As a student myself I am well aware of just how costly third-level education is,” said O’Hara.
“As well as tuition fees which have steadily increased over recent years, students are faced with paying for extortionate rents, expensive textbooks, and at NUI Galway an outrageous repeat exam fee of €295.”
He said that the SUSI grants system is completely unfit for purpose and that the assessment criteria does not accurately reflect households’ available income and this has resulted in many working families receiving no support to pay for high education costs.
“The current pandemic has made many families financial situations even worse and the grants system ignores this reality. Sinn Féin is campaigning to change this.
“Education should be a right not a privilege, however the reality is that currently access to third level education is a privilege as many working class families are being excluded due to high costs and a dysfunctional system.
“This survey aims to capture that reality. I am asking students in east Galway to complete this short online survey to help highlight these issues. The results will be published later this month.
“The results of this survey will give an indication of the necessary changes that must be made in order to effectively reform the grants system and make education accessible to everyone.
“The grants system ignores the financial reality for students and families. Hard working families need a break and students need investment not exclusion,” added Louis O’Hara.