Athlone students join Dublin protest march

Hundreds of AIT students descended on the capital yesterday to add their voices to the ‘Education Is’ student protest march to Dáil Éireann.

The pre-budget demonstration organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI ) attracted up to 10,000 students from across the country who were calling on the Government to protect students in the upcoming Budget 2014.

The students marched from Parnell Square to Leinster House, where they held a demonstration led by speakers from USI and across the education sector.

Students are calling on the Government to commit to protecting the Student Maintenance Grant and Back to Education Allowance, to cap the Student Contribution Fee at €3,000, and to commit to building purpose-built student accommodation.

Deputy president of AIT Students Union, Kevin Ronan, says further budget cuts will directly result in students dropping out of courses.

“With the cost of third level education in Ireland increasing year on year and student supports reducing there is an immediate danger that further cuts to the education budget will have a drastic knock-on effect on the number of students attending Athlone IT in the future and the number of students finishing their course and coming out with third level qualifications,” he said.

“A recent Bank of Ireland study has calculated that the average cost of attending third level is €13,000 per annum. The average maintenance grant payment is €3,025. The continuing rise in the cost of rental accommodation, the annual increase in the student contribution fee, and the saturated part-time employment market has served to widen the cost between student supports and student costs.”

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