High rents, college fees and the cost-of-living mean students are no longer able to support themselves through college with grants and part-time jobs, according to the Union of Students in Ireland.
It comes after a food bank opened for students at University College Cork (UCC) ran out of food less than an hour after opening its doors yesterday.
In a tweet yesterday, UCC Student’s Union (UCCSU) communications and engagement officer Maeve Richardson warned that there are “students starving in UCC and all over Ireland.”
There are students starving in UCC and all over Ireland. This is the reality of having the highest colleges fees in the EU and increasing rents.
Please keep donating to our food bank. pic.twitter.com/z17rBGvrXY
— Maeve Richardson (@UCCSUEngagement) October 6, 2021
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, she said UCCSU opened the food bank because “so many students were coming to us and saying to us they were experiencing financial hardship to the point they were experiencing food insecurity.”
She said the financial struggles are down to “high rents and college fees.”
“With the rents we have, we need either a rent freeze or a rent reduction on this island,” she said. “No student can fully support themselves with a part-time job.”
“I just want to stress the majority of the students who come to us are engaged in part-time work. They are not looking for a handout, they are doing everything in their power to ensure they can live the best life they can by working and by studying.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Union of Students in Ireland Clare Austick told the show that student unions all over the country have been running food banks for a number of years.
“It is absolutely heart-breaking and so upsetting that many students have had to turn to a food bank to get food to put themselves through college,” she said.
“Many students cannot afford the cost of college – we have the highest fees in Europe by €3,000, extortionate accommodation costs and the high cost of living
“There are many students who are now living on a very tight budget, who do not have enough food and are really, really struggling.”
Ms Austick said the SUSI student grant no longer reflects the cost of living in Ireland.
“It is just not good enough,” she said. “It doesn’t suffice.
“Many students are struggling even when they are on the SUSI grant so a lot more needs to be done.
She said the USI is calling for “really significant investment across the third-level sector as a whole.”
“We really need to see commitment from Government to invest to reduce the student contribution charge, to build purpose-built student accommodation that is affordable and to invest in student support services,” she said.
Hello everyone ! The response to the @UCCSU Food Bank tonight has been phenomenal and we are so grateful for all the support! We have set up a go fund me the link is https://t.co/c8lsaLSTKP
I can’t thank everyone enough😭🥰
— Caoimhe Walsh (@UCCSUWelfare) October 6, 2021
A GoFundMe page for the UCCSU food bank raised nearly €10,000 since it was set up yesterday afternoon.
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