Wednesday 21 February 2018

High rents push student costs to €11,000 a year

Students are increasingly experiencing financial difficulty. Stock Image
Students are increasingly experiencing financial difficulty. Stock Image

Patrick Kelleher

The price of going to college has reached €11,000 per year due to increases in the cost of rent, public transport and the student contribution charge over recent years.

DIT Campus Life's annual cost of living guide for 2016/17 found that the cost is similar to last year, largely due to the €3,000 contribution charge remaining the same.

The figure will be less for the 40pc of students who receive a grant, as Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), the national awarding authority, pays their charge.

However, the guide, which is designed to help those starting college in September, found that public transport costs have nearly doubled for students in the last decade. This year, students will pay around €135 per month.

And despite going down during the recession, rent nationally is now an average of €343 per month, and is €462 in Dublin. The figure today is just €90 less per year than it was in 2007 when prices were at their peak.

The guide also warns that if current trends continue, the 2007 peak is likely to be topped in 2017.

The cost of living guide has been published annually by DIT Campus Life since 2006. This year's report outlined some of the key changes for students during that period.

It found that students increasingly experience financial difficulty. While 45pc of undergraduates were happy with their financial situation in 2009, by 2013 this fell to 33pc.

The amount of money being spent socialising has dropped significantly during the decade. In 2006, it was more than €1,000 a year. It has now dropped to around €666 annually. The report notes that this is largely due to the availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets and the rise in popularity of pre-drinking before hitting clubs.

The guide comes in the same week as the long awaited Cassells report into funding higher education. The committee, which was chaired by Peter Cassells, offered three options for funding third-level.

One of these options is a controversial 'study now, pay later' loan system. The option would allow students to get their degrees and start working before they start making repayments. The system could see students leaving college with up to €20,000 debt.

Increased attention has been paid to the funding of third level in recent years as demand for places rises. This year, more than 80,000 applied to the CAO.

Irish Independent

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