A recent survey conducted by the College Tribune has shed some light the pressures felt by students to both fund their education and their lifestyle while at university.
It was found that 24% of students will personally spend in excess of €10, 000 over the course of one college year, taking into account fees, travel and accommodation. The vast majority of students will spend over €2500 per annum in order to attend and subsist during this period, with only 13% spending under this amount. The survey also revealed that 20% of UCD students are set to be in debt in excess of €5000 when they graduate.
Many UCD students also choose to work in addition to their studies, with many feeling to pressure to work to finance themselves through college. Nearly 20% of students claim that they will work in excess of 20 hours simply to finance their college experience. Of these students, 3% will work more than 25 hours in a week during the college year. In light of these figures it is not surprising that 64% of students have claimed that financial pressures affect their overall college performance.
One concerned UCD student, Adam Cullen, voiced his concerns to the Tribune; “The current expense of college fees per year is roughly three-thousand euro. This cost although worth the expense for the level of service gained and the added pleasurable experience of going to college is extremely high.”
When speaking about the pressure and affects these high costs can have on students Cullen stated; “It places great pressure on college students who failing any government funding are then in the unfortunate situation of having to work part time while attending college full time. This level of work from personal experience I can tell you is extremely difficult to balance and can in some cases have an adverse effect on the quality of one’s college work and in vice versa the quality of ones work outside college. When factored in with attempting to balance a social and family life along with this work it’s clear that many who attend college feel under immense pressure”.
The largest costs to students will include accommodation, essential utilities, and transportation. 35% of students will pay over €5000 for accommodation alone, before fees or additional costs are taken into account. On top of these expenses, 41% of students are set to pay between €1000 and €3000 for essentials and amenities such as clothes, food, heating and internet bills, with nearly 9% spending over €3000 per annum.
Figures for transportation costs were surprisingly low, particularly in light of the recent increase in travel costs, with 48% of students only expending €250 or under during the college year. Only 5.5% will spend over €1000 on travel this year based on the results of the survey. The level of expenditure for students in terms of class materials, fines and repeats is similarly low, with nearly 50% spending less than €250 per year.
Another UCD student, Ailbhe Curtis, spoke about how she often goes without course material as she simply cannot afford it. “Some of the course textbooks can be over €50 and I really can’t afford to buy them on top of everything else. I’d rather borrow from friends or photocopy pages then spend that much money on a book I’ll only ve using for one semester.”
As well as the College Tribune survey, educational institutions such as Dublin Institute of Technology have shown similarly concerning findings in recent surveys. New statistics released in the DIT Cost of Living Guide estimate the average Irish student pays approximately €11,000 per year in college expenses. These statistics were produced using data from the March 2014 Consumer price index, the Draft.ie rental report Q4 (2013), as well as the Eurostudent V survey recently published by the HEA.
The statistics outline the annual college costs of both students and their parents. These expenses include rent (approx. €2763), Utilities (€297), food (€1548), travel (€1071), class materials (€666), social life (€1188), and student contribution charges (€2750), along with several others, leading to a total yearly cost of €10,976.
According to this survey, 18% of students are experiencing serious financial difficulty. The guide outlines many issues, such as a rise in rent for Dublin students due to the shortage of suitable accommodation. As a result of this, Students are now forced to commute greater distances, and in light of steadily increasing bus fares this too is causing financial strain. However, it is estimated that up to 40% of students receive Higher education grants, with their Student Contribution covered by SUSI.
“College is expensive enough with fees… it’s a bit Ludacris” says one second year Arts Student, “People always say college isn’t cheap, but when you add fees, the cost of books that you’ll use once, maybe twice you don’t have much spending money”.
In addition to these findings the Guide also gives approximations of how costs are divided between students and their parents. Expenses such as rent, student charge and utilities were predominantly paid by parents, while clothing, travel, and social life costs were mainly paid by students themselves.
“It’s basically just hard to save…all my money gets spent on my social life” claims second year biomedical science student Conor Kilkenny, “ I had a seasonal job coming up to exams and don’t think I’d be able to keep it up throughout the year without my grades suffering”.
However, in light of these financial difficulties, 89% of UCD students agree that college is a worthwhile investment. The consensus among most students seems to be that fees are a major issue, and with the already daunting costs to rise in the future, future measures to resolve this problem remains uncertain.