Government to fund free period products for students following TCDSU petition

TCDSU launched a petition in March calling for free period products in all HEIs which reached over 3,000 signatures 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan has announced  funding of €500,000 to provide free period products in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

This follows a petition from Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) launched in March which has since reached over 3,000 signatures.

The funding will be split 50/50 across HEIs and education and Training Boards (ETBs) to deliver “free and sustainable period products for students”. It falls under the government commitment to the Period Dignity scheme.

Speaking today O’Donovan said: “I am pleased to announce that my department has secured €500,000 in Budget 2024 to seek to address period indignity in further and higher educational settings.”

“This initiative promotes equality and respect across our educational sector and the funding will allow my department to further enhance work in this important area. It will also allow us to build on previous initiatives to ensure that no students are disadvantaged in their education by period indignity.”

He has said he looks forward to “enhancing provision across campuses and reducing disadvantage in this area.”

In a statement on social media TCDSU President László Molnárfi said the union is “delighted to see that following the campaign for free period products across 3rd level institutions, including our petition with over 3,000 signatures and lobbying TD to raise PQs, @DeptofFHed has announced funding of €500,000 in funding for this.”

“We are incredibly happy with the increase, but there are still improvements to be made, and

@tcdsu will continue to lobby the government to further increase fund so that everyone can have access to period products.”

He has also pledged that TCDSU will “will monitor the implementation of the framework and will continue to campaign in case more funding is needed”. The union also hopes that “the funding will be used and adopted by 3rd level institutions.”

Currently University College Dublin (UCD), University of Limerick (UL) and Galway University are the only third level institutions across Ireland which fund the provision of free period products across their campuses.

Previously, the department rolled out the “Worryfree” scheme which delivered free period products for students in select ETBs.

Speaking on the petition at the time TCDSU Welfare & Equality officer Aoife Bennett said: “There is a clear demand for these initiatives, from students and staff.”

By tackling period dignity head-on, we can directly tackle stigma and shame around periods for students and staff, thus making our campuses more inclusive places for members of our academic community from all backgrounds.”

She continued: “By ensuring access to free period products, especially as the housing and cost-of-living crises worsen, we can ensure that those from worse-off socioeconomic backgrounds are supported throughout their education.”

A report by Bennett in November 2023 detailed how the Period Product Proposal was supported by College’s Student Life Committee. College received a once-off fund of €7,000 last year from Trinity Trust, which saw period products made available in 10 bathrooms across campus and off-campus locations. The products were supplied by Irish brand We Are Riley.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.