This evening, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) released a statement welcoming some of the one-off measures in Budget 2024 to help with the high cost of going to College, while also criticising the government for the lack of measures to reduce the cost of education in the medium and long term.
The USI welcomed the reduction in the student contribution charge, €750 rent tax credit, increases in the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant, and the €1.40 increase in the minimum wage, agreeing with Minister Simon Harris’ assertion that these measures will put money back in students’ pockets.
The USI however criticised Budget 2024 for having “no measures that will have a medium or long-term impact on the cost of third-level education”, calling it “a missed opportunity”.
The statement read: “As student representatives, it is difficult for USI to look at this Budget as anything other than an overall disappointment, as the chance to use a small percentage of the significant Budget surplus to address the student accommodation crisis was not taken.”
Referencing last week’s demonstration which called on government to use some of its projected €65bn “rainy day fund” to tackle the student accommodation crisis and the rising cost of going to college, USI President Chris Clifford said that “while there was tinkering at the edges, and some support given, this just didn’t happen today”.
“As far as USI is concerned, that was a deliberate choice made by this Government.”
“There were signs today that government [have] heard and seen our protests. They obviously know the Student Contribution is way too high, rent is a nightmare, and the supports available aren’t enough. But they haven’t done what is needed”, he added.
Echoing USI Vice-President (VP) for Campaigns Zaid Albarghouthi’s promise last week to “wait, keep our eyes on the budget until October 10, and after that, re-evaluate”, Clifford said it was time to go back to their members, talk to Student Union officers and students to decide on any further escalation, promising: “We will absolutely be keeping the pressure on”.