Monday 11 December 2017

Cost of going to college hits €7,200 a year for students

JOHN WALSHE

The cost of going to college has soared to around €7,200 a year for students living away from home.

And thousands of disadvantaged students, mature students and those with disabilities face hardship over the huge fees involved, new research reveals.

It shows that they have less money for social activities and are less likely to take part in clubs or societies on campus.

The revelations come as record numbers are expected to apply to the Central Applications Office this year to 'ride' out the recession and boost their job prospects.

Two forthcoming studies from the Economic and Social Research Institute call for changes in the supports for students to boost greater participation by different social groups.

One study makes the surprise finding that young people from lower white-collar backgrounds have the lowest participation rate in college -- lower even than students from traditional 'working class' backgrounds.

The category represents about 10pc of the population, with the breadwinners working mainly as bus drivers and conductors, waiters/waitresses, hairdressers/barbers, chefs, postal workers, dental workers, warehouse and despatch clerks.

Grants

Many of these families are just over the income threshold to qualify for a full higher education grant.

The report says that many of the children from these backgrounds -- especially males -- were alienated from school at an early age. They felt teachers had low expectations for them and saw college as an extension of school where their experience was often negative.

Guidance about college was usually focused on certain groups of students such as those in the honours class.

Where they were interested, many young people from lower white-collar backgrounds fell at the final financial hurdle, perhaps due to ineligibility for a grant.

The second report shows that even when they get grants, students from disadvantaged backgrounds face financial strain as do mature students, who make up 14pc of new college entrants.

It examines in detail the cost of going to college. Its findings are similar to other studies, such as that published by the Dublin Institute of Technology which estimated the cost for a student living away from home at €7,000-€8,000 a year.

Accommodation costs have fallen due to the house price collapse but are still a huge factor for many students.

Irish Independent

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