Sunday 25 August 2019

'People are worried about the cost' - CAO points for some Dublin college courses fall amid accommodation crisis

Points for some college courses outside of Dublin have increased significantly, while the same courses in Dublin fell

Lorna Fitzpatrick
Lorna Fitzpatrick
Education Minister Joe McHugh (Niall Carson/PA)
Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O Connor speaking to media at Rockford Manor Presentation, Blackrock, Dublin Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Niamh Lynch

The President of the Union of Students in Ireland has said the worsening accommodation crisis in the capital is forcing students to look at regional college options.

Lorna Fitzpatrick was speaking as the CAO offers showed a decrease in points required for some Dublin college courses. It comes as the number of courses requiring more than 500 points rose from 114 to 120. The 600-point threshold was also passed for the first time.

Applied Psychology in Cork jumped from 485 points in 2018 to 523 in 2019, while Psychology in Maynooth University (MU) jumped from 473 to 495.

READ MORE: CAO points for college entry have crashed the 600-point limit for the first time

The President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Lorna Fitzpatrick, said: “Anecdotally, we’ve heard that people are worried about the cost of accommodation in Dublin and have looked to study similar courses elsewhere.”

Ms Fitzpatrick also says that Minister for Education Joe McHugh’s comments during the week were “problematic”. The Minister said that families who cannot afford to send their children to university in the capital should look to regional institutions.

Interactive guide to 2019 CAO first round points, click here


She said: “We believe that people should study the courses that’s best for them, to allow them to take the path that they wish to choose in life. And if that’s a college course that’s very close to them or that’s in a regional college somewhere, that’s perfectly fine.

Education Minister Joe McHugh (Niall Carson/PA)

“Our issue is where students are being forced to take courses in institutions and colleges that may be closer to them because of the accommodation crisis,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.

Psychology remained about the same or required more points in University of Limerick (UL), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin (UCD), and Dublin City University (DCU).

Meanwhile, Nursing dropped six points in DCU, from 420 to 414, and 15 points in UCD, from 413 to 398, while in Trinity three out of four of its Nursing courses dropped in points required.

However, points broadly went up across the board in Trinity, amid a push by the College to attract more international students who pay higher fees.

Engineering and Architecture also experienced points decreasing in the capital, while other regional universities recorded increases, as students decide to go for the cheaper option.

Engineering in National University of Galway, Ireland (NUIG) went from 432 to 444, while UCC experienced a 33-point increase - to 476 - in the same course.

Engineering in UL also jumped from 422 to 434, while similar courses in UCD and DCU remained at the same level.

Architecture in UCC jumped from 447 to 465, while the same course in UCD slumped from 498 to 486.

Architecture in Limerick increased from 403 to 418, while the same course at Technological University Dublin (TUD), which requires a portfolio and an extra examination, went from 626 to 618.

Ms Fitzpatrick said: “The whole system is becoming quite inaccessible - you can’t speak about fees without speaking about accommodation and you can’t speak about accommodation without talking about fees really, the two of them are paired. And it is making it very difficult for students and their families.”

READ MORE: Students face paying thousands more to secure accommodation at our universities

Meeting accommodation costs is about to get more challenging for first-year students and their parents, as an survey showed that every college in the country is raising their student accommodation rates.

UCC will increase its costs for Mardyke Hall by 11.5pc, while UL has increased its accommodation charges by up to 6.2pc.

Earlier this week Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said students should use the Susi grant to cover the costs for accommodation.

Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O Connor speaking to media at Rockford Manor Presentation, Blackrock, Dublin Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

However, only 12pc of students who apply for Susi receive the maximum grant of just under €6,000 - not enough to cover most of the charges of college-owned accommodation.

READ MORE: Student accommodation: Can the Susi grant really cover rent costs?

Meanwhile, colleges are also facing a sharp drop in the number of students from Northern Ireland and Britain attending Irish universities, amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

Applications from Northern Ireland were down by 18pc annually, while applications from British students are down 13pc. By contrast, CAO applications from students from EU countries were up 9pc from 2018.

The decrease in applications comes amid uncertainty as to whether British students will be charged the much-higher international student fee rate in the wake of a hard or no-deal Brexit.

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