Third-level students who are thinking about dropping out of college because they can’t afford tuition may receive some relief in the form of an extra €3m that Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn is allocating to the Student Assistance Fund.
This year, universities, institutes of technology and other third-level institutes have reported an average increase in applications to the fund of 67pc to date, according to the Department of Education and Skills.
The €3m injection will bring the amount of money available to the fund to €11m in 2012/13. With the extra money, the fund is expected to help about 16,000 students this academic year.
Last year, some 13,000 students received financial aid.
“I am acutely aware of the severe financial difficulties facing many families and students this academic year,” said Quinn.
“In light of this and the delays to the processing of some student grants, the Department of Education and Skills requested the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to examine if there was an increased demand from students to access the Student Assistance Fund.
“Given the substantial increase reported by third-level institutions, we have found the resources within our own budget to increase the fund by €3m, which will help thousands more students stay in college or avoid hardship.”
The HEA asked 32 institutions to complete a short survey on the current position on the administration of the Student Assistance Fund.
The Student Assistance Fund is managed by the National Access Office of the HEA on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.