Trinity has been highlighted as having the lowest number of students in receipt of the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant out of all higher education institutions nationwide according to new figures published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
This is the first time that the HEA and the grants body have released information on the proportion of students who avail of the funding. The data used in the review refers to new entrants to Irish third-level institutions in the 2013/2014 intake. The HEA reported that one of their key findings is the fact that there was a lower number of students receiving the grant in universities generally (36%) in comparison to those attending institutes of technology (56%) and other colleges (41%).
The HEA also highlighted the strong difference in the percentages of students receiving grants between different counties, with the highest number coming from Donegal (67%) and the lowest number coming from Dublin (35%). The institution with the largest number of students on the grant was Letterkenny Institute of Technology (71%).
In response to questions regarding the number of Trinity students on the grant, College’s Press Office told Trinity News that: “Trinity is a university for the whole island of Ireland, and attracts students from every county in Ireland.” While they acknowledged that Trinity has a lower number of students in receipt of grants, they maintained that it is “committed to developing the diversity and inclusiveness of its student body.”
Speaking to Trinity News about the new findings, Cliona Hannon, Director of Trinity Access Programme (TAP), praised the outreach efforts made by Trinity as an individual institution. There are currently over 1,000 students enrolled via TAP, and more than 800 have graduated, she said.
However, Ms Hannon also commented that both Trinity and UCD (with 28% grant recipients) are in some ways the “local universities” for secondary school students from South Dublin, which has the largest concentration of private schools in the country, meaning they will attract many students from that background.
She emphasised the need for wider collaboration to facilitate third-level education access for students from lower-income backgrounds, such as greater support from government for schools, which she says has not been present from this or the previous government.