Practical advice to new and returning college students

Following the release this week of its annual ‘Cost of Living’ survey, TU Dublin issues practical advice to new and returning students.

Dr Brian Gormley, Head Campus Life, TU Dublin.

Dr Brian Gormley, Head Campus Life, TU Dublin.

Booking Accommodation
Although it may be difficult for colleges to be specific, students should try and find out how many days per week they can expect to be on campus. As some HEIs will be offering blended learning, students may only be on campus one or two days per week. In that case, it may be cheaper to pay for a room on a nightly basis, rather than renting a place for a full week.

Accommodation costs
It is expected that there will be increased availability of accommodation spaces for students this year due to new student accommodation blocks opening, a decrease in the numbers of international students, and short-term lets returning to the long-term rental market. According to the Rental report 2020, rents dropped by 2.1% in April. With a 40% increase in supply in the private rental market for students, rents are expected to fall more this year.

Bike or bus?
In the TU Dublin survey, 17% of students expressed concern about travelling on public transport. Consider if it’s feasible to cycle to college to avoid public transportation, and save money. For example, an annual membership for Dublin Bikes costs €25.

Under 19s:
The Child Leap Card is valid until a student turns 19, and this can reduce the weekly cost of travel by over 60%.

Claiming tax back
Check if you are entitled to tax back on fees. If you or your family is paying for more than one student in full-time education, you can claim tax relief on the student charge for the second or subsequent children. Also, if you are paying tuition fees, either for a postgraduate or a part-time programme or for repeating a year, you may be entitled to tax back.

Check out if there are scholarships, for which you may be eligible.  Last year, TU Dublin and the TU Dublin Foundation gave out over €500k in scholarships to students.

With an increased emphasis on online learning, students would benefit from access to a laptop. Students in design-related programmes may require a high-end laptop; they should wait until they receive specifications from their programme.

In the TU Dublin survey, many students said that the pandemic was having an impact on their mental health. All HEIs have excellent Counselling services which are free of charge. Use them and look after your physical and mental health.

Dr Brian Gormley, Head, Campus Life at TU Dublin, said:

“To respond to the challenges faced by students during Covid-19, TU Dublin is launching a campaign to raise funds to provide additional support for our students. If you are experiencing financial hardship, contact the Student Assistance Fund in your college, and they will do their best to provide advice and support.”

“Some students also spoke of how Covid-19 is negatively affecting their mental health, and we would urge them to speak to someone, either a friend or family member; they could also make an online appointment with their college counselling service.”


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