As the debate surrounding the inclusion of capital assets in the third level grant means test rages on, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Gabriel Gilmartin has highlighted the fact that rural families sending kids to college in urban centres are already paying significantly more than their urban counterparts.
As outlined in the ICSA’s submission to the Capital Asset Test Implementation Group – the group which is examining the possibility of including capital assets in the third level grant means test - a study carried out by Dublin Institute of Technology estimates that it can cost rural-based students thousands of euro more per year to attend college in the capital compared to Dublin-based students. The study found that additional spending can amount to more than €4,500 in the form of accommodation, food and utility costs. The average cost of food for a student renting in the capital cost approximately €1,521 while students living at home spent on average €576. Students who lived away from home spent €630 on books and study materials while those living at forked out €468, although costs such as travel clothing, medical and social living averaged out at €801 per group. It was also found that students renting in Dublin spent on average €4,668 on rent expenses.
Commenting on the findings, Mr Gilmartin said: “I hope that Minister (for Education and Skills) Ruairi Quinn is not going to ignore the fact that farming families already have a huge additional financial obstacle to overcome in order to send their kids to college, compared to urban families. Any suggestion that farmers should simply liquidate their assets in order to afford third level education is ludicrous.”