UCDSU has called upon the government to abolish the student contribution charge in the upcoming budget as part of the Union’s pre-budget submission.

The cost of abolishing the charges would be €254 million which University College Dublin Students’ Union said would be “worth every penny”. The SU says it is important for the country to reaffirm its commitment to higher education as a “public good”. The government was also asked to consider funding the education of students who do not fall under the “Free Fees” Initiative.  

UCDSU President Martha Ní Riada commented; “It is time to act on behalf of the students who are in the system today and who will go on to pay that investment back in spades by contributing to Irish society in countless ways”. 

UCDSU Digs Drive
Caption: UCDSU Officers at their recent Digs Drive, September 2023 – Hugh Dooley

However, UCDSU wanted to stress that this should not come at the expense of core funding to the education sector. In the submission the SU asked that the government “address the shortfall in core funding that has plagued the sector for many years, guaranteeing a quality academic experience for all”.  

This pre-budget submission covers three main areas – higher education, student accommodation, and the wider cost of living. Although this is not an exhaustive list of issues that UCDSU wants addressed, it is what they believe to be the most pressing issues facing students today. 

“The rainy day for students is today”. 

Martha Ní Riada

To combat the student accommodation crisis the UCDSU has asked the government to implement immediate regulations on digs-style arrangements. It is hoped that these regulations will greatly limit the number of sudden evictions and subsequent homelessness. 

The ‘Rent a Room’ Relief scheme allows homeowners to claim up to €14,000 tax-free and therefore the SU does not believe it to be unreasonable that these homeowners should have to meet some basic criteria in order to avail of this scheme. For example, stopping the increasing rates of homeowners who are charging 7-day rates for 5-day stays.

To address the cost of living crisis the UCDSU has asked the government to introduce a living wage of €13.85 per hour and has also called for a re-evaluation of the “extortionate annual cost” of €300 to renew the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card for Ireland’s cohort of international students. 

Ní Riada added that the Union is “asking for a genuinely student-friendly budget to ease the burden on students and young people” reinforcing the message to the government that “the rainy day for students is today”. 

Ellen Clusker – Reporter