The number of students seeking help from the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) to help them get a third-level education continues to rise, and the society needs help to help them.
That’s the message this week from the SVP as it launches a national appeal to support its Education and Training Bursary Fund.
“SVP members know first-hand that accessibility and affordability are real barriers to a third level education. More and more desperate students come to us each year, but we can only help so many. That is why we are launching this nationwide appeal to support the bursary fund,” said Rose McGowan, SVP Vice President and Chair of the National Education Committee.
SVP spends approximately €4million each year supporting families with education costs at all levels. Half of this is spent helping people access third level education and training courses.
The SVP Education and Training Bursary Fund provides support to students whose families may struggle to support them financially through third level education.
“Some of these students qualify for the SUSI state grant and some are just above the threshold. But for all of them, they simply cannot afford to access their courses,” Ms McGowan said.
Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice, explained: “The social divide in third level access is something that concerns SVP members who believe that our education system should ensure the very best outcomes for everyone, regardless of their socio-economic background. The fact that a student from a disadvantaged area has just a one-in-five chance of going to third level shows the depth of this divide.”
Dr Keilthy added that SVP members have found that grant cuts in tandem with increases in student contributions, exam fees and most especially accommodation costs have made third level even more unattainable for students from low income groups.
“Right now, all around the country, young men and women are facing into one of the most stressful times of their lives. But the tragedy is, even if they get the results they need, college may be out of the question,” said Ms McGowan.
Donations to the SVP Education and Training bursary Fund can be made through the SVP website: www.svp.ie/bursaryfund