Fees are going up, but you can still win an achievement award
It was inevitable that the education sector would face unwelcome cuts in the 2012 Budget, but the news of most interest to third-level students is that they will face a further increase of €250 in the student contribution charge in the next academic year. Students and their families are already coping with an increase from €1,500 to €2,000 in this academic year so this will not be welcome news.
When the free tuition fees scheme was introduced, students were required to pay a charge which was referred to as the 'student services' charge, as it covered costs relating to registration and other services, rather than tuition.
Recently, however, the term has been changed to the 'student contribution' charge, which seems to reflect the reality that students are contributing to more than registration and other service costs now, as that original payment has multiplied several times over the 15-year period since 1996.
Of course, tuition fees have also risen in that period, as a click on any HEI's fees website will show.
University fees range from around €6,000 to almost €9,000 depending on the faculty, for Irish and other EU students.
Meanwhile, at this time of the academic year, some first- year students in different universities received welcome news. A number of universities recognise the Leaving Certificate achievements of their new entrants with a series of awards.
Last week, Trinity College reported that a total of 410 first-year students were awarded special Entrance Exhibitioners Awards from the college, (compared with 436 students in 2010.) Each exhibition or award is in the form of a book prize worth €300 over two years.
The students receiving awards had each achieved 560 points or higher in the Leaving Certificate or equivalent second-level examination.
Trinity College also awarded Sports Scholarships to 22 students last month.
NUI Maynooth awarded a total of 136 scholarships at its Entrance Scholarship Awards ceremony last month. This is a 35% increase on the number of scholarships awarded in 2010.
The university reports that departments such as Law, Science Education, Psychology and Arts all had an increase in students receiving the awards. In NUI Maynooth, each first year student who achieves 500 points or more in their Leaving Certificate or GCE A Levels examination, receives an entrance scholarships of €1,000, and a place is also reserved for them in one of the university campus apartments, (normal residency charges apply).
UCD operates a number of student scholarship or award schemes, through its Ad Astra Academy programmes. The UCD Ad Astra programmes recognise exceptional high-achieving students in the academic, the elite athletic, and the performing arts areas.
Students may become part of the Ad Astra Academy either on acceptance of a place on a UCD undergraduate programme or based on their subsequent performance as they progress through their studies.
Dublin City University (DCU) offers a number of award schemes, and prides itself on its sport development programmes, elite athlete development programmes and its Sports Academy.
Dublin Institute of Technology also operates a Sports Scholarships scheme, and 54 new student athletes were presented with DIT Sport Scholarships last month.
Space does not permit a comprehensive listing here of scholarship schemes. All HEI websites provide details of their award and scholarship schemes.
Open day: Saturday, 10 December, NCAD's annual Postgraduate Open Day, from 10.00am- 3.00pm.