Serious questions for Further and Higher Education Minister as students’ financial pressures surge

Senator Annie Hoey image
20 April 2023
  • Minister must address Committee on supports available for forthcoming term

Labour Senator and spokesperson on Further and Higher Education Annie Hoey has accused Minister Harris of spending too much time on spin and not enough on solutions for hard pressed students throughout the country.

Responding to the survey published in the Eurostudent report, Senator Hoey said since the new Department was created, those experiencing serious financial difficulties has surged from 26% to 33%.

Senator Hoey said:

“The enormous financial burden of attending further and higher education is well known however it is deeply concerning to learn that things are getting worse, not better, for students despite the newly created Department for Further and Higher Education. It’s nothing short of an absolute failure of politics and political will that in the most intense cost of living crisis in recent history, Minister Harris has been more focused on generating short-term press release coverage for himself, rather than paving the way for long-term better access to further and higher education.

“As the survey shows, accommodation is clearly the greatest cost for many students. Time and again we have urged this Government to provide better, affordable, purpose built student accommodation, not the unaffordable, luxurious apartments the construction industry continues to pursue. It’s the property gold rush of our times and students are the ones paying the ultimate price.

“We also know through constant engagement with student representatives that many third level institutions are raising prices of college-owned student accommodation, citing general ‘cost of living’ excuses. It is completely unacceptable to expect students and their families to pay between double and triple the annual college fee upfront for student accommodation.

“We are coming close to the time of year when panic around student housing sets in. These private student housing providers are manipulating students and especially their parents who want to ensure that their children are in good quality accommodation when they move away for college. Students should not have to spend their entire summer struggling to find an affordable option for accommodation but should be taking time to get ready for the academic year ahead. They, like all renters, deserve certainty of tenancy and affordability.

“Minister Harris needs to present himself to Committee to outline his plans for students for the forthcoming academic year. Many further and higher education students are currently undertaking their summer exams. Rather than leaving them panic with deep uncertainty for the summer months, Labour is calling on Minister Harris to outline in detail what supports will be made available and what action he will take to ease the cost of education in Ireland today.”

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