Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has announced €17.2 million in student financial supports and €5 million to support students mental health and wellbeing.
The supports are being provided as part of a €105 million package for Further and Higher Education provided by Government.
Speaking at the announcement of the financial and mental health supports for students, Minister Harris said, “when we set about getting staff and students back to college campuses, we also made a commitment we would put supports in place to make this happen. Today, I am delighted to follow through on that commitment with the announcement of two very important funds.”
“Students have endured an incredibly difficult 18 months due to Covid-19. They are now back on campus but they still need significant support – financial and other. The Student Assistance Fund is a fund that is in place for students who might be financially struggling, and today we are confirming €17 million for students.”
“The long-term impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health has the potential to be significant. We invested €5 million in services and increasing staff numbers last year and this additional €5 million will enable the continued provision and enhancement of student counselling services and the roll-out of innovative mental health and wellbeing supports for students and training for staff.”
The Student Assistance Fund provides financial support to full or part-time students who are experiencing financial difficulties while attending college. Students can apply for the Student Assistance Fund to help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties.
The Student Assistance Fund is available to help with costs such as books and class materials, rent and other utility bills, food, essential travel, childcare costs, medical costs.
The mental health funding will be used to:
- Recruit additional Student Counsellors.
- Recruit additional Assistant Psychologists.
- Recruit Head of Service posts for those HEIs employing more than 2 FTEs.
- Train HEI staff to enable them to support and refer students to appropriate services.
- Raise awareness among students of mental health and wellbeing services available, including through student outreach activities.
- Support implementation of the National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework.
- Support implementation of the Framework for Consent in HEIs; Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive: Ending Sexual Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive Officer, HEA said, “throughout the pandemic our higher education institutions (HEIs) have demonstrated an ability to find new ways to engage with students. Student support services, including advice and counselling, have played a central role over the past year.”
“We have seen the enhancement and extension of mental health services to students who have faced all kinds of challenges. This additional funding will allow HEIs to continue to support students and their frontline staff as we reopen higher education again.”