by Declan Brady
There has been an increase of around 20,000 students in full time education in the last seven years.
The problem is that the rhetoric of the education and the minister of Education of making education available to more people and those from low income backgrounds proves to a fallacy in reality. This is obvious at a fundamental level in the greatly inadequate provision of primary education which has headlined the news for the last few years.
The most important thing a student attending college needs is quality, affordable accommodation. The reality is that such accommodation is scarce and the provision of student specific accommodation far below the demand. This means students have to look in the private sector to rent accommodation. This year such accommodation is sparse and expensive as was predicted by the USI before the general election when they called on the government to set up a taskforce to investigate the matter.
The governments inaction cannot be excused as they were made aware of the problem and failed to act. Due to this many students are forced to rent expensive digs and in some cases substandard accommodation. The maximum higher education grant of €3,420 per annum fails to even cover the cost of accommodation for most students.
What is necessary is the provision of quality, affordable accommodation by the state for students that will ensure students are not at the mercy of greedy landlords. To resolve this problem it is necessary that students mobilise and act in a united way to force the government to act. Instead of simply calling on the government to establish task forces, the leadership of USI should be organising students to campaign for decent affordable student accommodation and a living grant.