Students ranging from undergraduates to PhD are able to financially benefit from the new 2024 budget that brought into effect the increase in student maintenance grants.
Postgraduates can expect the return of an increased grant for their courses which has not seen an increase in over a decade, while PhD students will be eligible for a €3,000 increase for their funding.
The Citizens Information state, “maintenance grant rates will increase by €615 for all non-adjacent rates and by 10% for adjacent rates from September 2024 and a pro-rota increase will be available from January 2024”.
The cost-of-living prices is leaving a large percentage of students suffering and unable to afford basic needs while accommodation prices are still high. Student accommodation in Galway on campus stands at €5,895 for a private en suite double and €3,285 for a standard twin room in Corrib Village, €6,525 for an en suite single and €6,660 for an en suite double in Goldcrest Village.
Students can explore other options and rates on the Student Residences section on The University of Galway’s website. The grant increase will alleviate the pressure of contribution costs to over 96,000 students, but it will simultaneously be a small financial benefit to relieving the pressure off cost of accommodations.
SIN spoke to University of Galway’s President, Ciarán Ó hOgartaigh, who stated: “I welcome this increase and continue to encourage the Government to go further, particularly for students in need. We have been to the fore advocating for students.”
Ó hOgartaigh highlighted, “We contacted the department to alert them to the fears that people had that the rent-a-room scheme would impact their eligibility for SUSI grants and medical cards. The department amended the scheme as a consequence to increase accommodation available to students.”
A proposition was made to the scheme being developed to provide government subsidised accommodation to SUSI grant-holders and continue to work with the government to bring it to fruition in Galway.
Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris stated, “The-cost-of-living has had a real impact on families. I’ve been working really hard to reduce fees for tens of thousands of students and their families right across Ireland.”
Harris numbered the amount of students that would benefit from the new increase: 10,695 students in Trinity College Dublin, 10,794 students in University of Limerick, 10,225 students in University College Cork, 15,187 students in Dublin College University and 10,926 students in University of Galway.
Simon Harris also shared, “If you’re an undergraduate student, you will see your fees reduced by €1000”, the student contribution fee for an undergraduate student is €3000 and following the new minus figure, it will decrease down to €2000. The Citizens Information website offers straightforward advice about a refund of the difference if you paid the €3000 contribution fee in full by supplying your higher education with your bank details to avail of the refund.”
Ó hOgartaigh shared with SIN how he thinks this will urge more students to apply for future courses, “We know the difference the financial aid makes to every single student and we’re urging the Government to go further again to support our students as the University of Galway has the highest amount of SUSI grant-holders.”
The Budget 2024’s package highlights what is secured for students for the coming year, “an increase of up to €342 in maintenance grants, a re-introduction of maintenance grants worth up to €2,384 to eligible postgraduate students and a €3000 increase in stipend for PhD researchers funded by the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.”
SIN also spoke with Dean Kenny, Student Union President in University of Galway who said, “This increase is a welcome announcement and surely will benefit a lot of students who are serving the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis, these increases are long over-due.”
However, Kenny worries that, “The word ‘once-off’ features in front of every new payment and reduction fees. Minister Harris has failed to tackle our issue and has put a plaster over a gaping wound. There is no longevity in these recent announcements and we are back to square one come the next budget day.”
Rachel Garvey is a Co-Editor for Features for Student Independent News for the year 2023/24. She works full-time, but dedicates her free time to writing and being involved in SIN. Rachel has been a contributor to SIN since 2017.