Declan Breathnach TD with DKIT President and Vice President and USI President Annie Hoey
Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach has met with members of the Union of Students in Ireland this week.
'I spoke with Annie Hoey, President of USI and with local representative from DKIT Pauraic Renaghan, President of their Student’s Union and they outlined to me some of their serious concerns” said Deputy Breathnach.
'They are looking for a reduction in the student contribution, and they have put forward proposals in relation to increasing the number of mental health counsellors, increasing the threshold and allocation of the SUSI Grant Scheme, among many other requests”.
'One of the areas that stood out for me and which I will raise in the Dáil is the decision taken in Budget 2011 which increased the distance to qualify for the non-adjacent rate of grant to 45km.
'They want this to be reduced back down to 24km. An example was given of Birr, Co. Offaly which is 40km from its nearest third level institution.
'The earliest a student from Birr can arrive at Athlone IT using public transport is 1.25 pm. Students who don’t have their own transport would need to reside in the college town but would not be eligible for the non-adjacent grant.
'Similarly for students in Louth, unless you live in Dundalk you could have considerable commuting costs to DKIT and this is not taken into consideration.”
'Accessibility to higher education is crucial and we need proactive measures to assist students in reaching their potential.”