Recent figures reveal changes in the college grant system.
The study, recently featured in the Irish Independent, show that students living in predominantly urban areas are more likely to receive University grants, as opposed to students living in rural areas.
Since the SUSI system began, there has been a shift in areas receiving the most grants. The time period of 2011 to 2014 have shown a 2% to 3% rise across the country, yet in the same period, grants awarded in Dublin rose by 15%. Whereas grants awarded in Mayo fell by 18%.
These were not unique cases. Waterford saw a rise of 18 % in received grants. There was also a rise of 12% in Limerick, 10% in Kildare and 8% in Cork.
The study also found significant decreases, mainly in Western counties, such as Kerry, Clare and Sligo, experiencing falls of between 7% and 17% during the same period.
The state currently contributes an estimated €1.1 billion per year to third level education, but it is thought that it needs more. Other figures show that last year, 78 000 students received college grants, and 79 251 the previous year. This is a change from the 54 666 received in 2007/2008.
These changes are thought to be a result of the economy, which has left more families eligible to apply. However, a source speaking to the Irish Independent, described these changes as way of “levelling the playing field”.
In regards to this, an Arts student argues that “it appears unfair to increase percentage in one area and lower them in another, just to appear fair. I acknowledge that the economy has made more students from urban areas eligible, however this should also be the case with rural areas, so the results should have stayed roughly the same.”
Yet, another student took a different approach; “I suppose there’s going to be shifts and changes with the economy, and things like that, over time. The system could just be responding to that.”