By Dieu-Hang Tran
Dáil Responded to International Student’s Concerns During Lockdown.
International students in Ireland are facing increasing financial hardship due to low wages and high rents according to their student union. The English Language Student Union (ELSU) met with members of the Dáil to raise the issues facing their members.
A survey by the ELSU found that in Dublin a single room in a shared house can cost up to €600 per month, with the average income for those questioned being €800. These figures mean that many international students struggling to meet their basic needs such as accommodation, food, clothing, medicines, on top of the
On 14th April, members of the Dáil had a meeting with English Language Student Union (ELSU) to review issues of abroad students.
“A part-time job of 20 hours per week is not enough to sustain a life in one of the most expensive capitals in Europe” said Carla Vaz, ELSU’s spoke person. In Dublin, with 600 euros a month for a single room, earning 800 euros a month does not allow students to meet their basic needs such as accommodation, food, clothing, medicines, not to mention 300 euros of visa renewal every year.
Two surveys by ELSU in 2020 show that most students are living in overcrowded households. The students confirmed that they are sharing the bedroom with at least one person by the time the surveys were made. A household with 24 tenants was recorded. “In a pandemic crisis with a highly contagious virus, that’s a human’s right and public health matter” said Carla.
“To be able to meet their basic needs, most of them have to work over 20h, with the overtime not being covered by any rights as they should as workers. This leads to threats in the workplace, taxes that could have been paid but are not, as well as safety issues”, said Carla.
Thaise Silva, an English student in Dublin Business School, shares her concerns about work and study balance: “85 percent of attendance is compulsory. During the pandemic, sometimes it is impossible to maintain it when you are at work”.
“We don’t have the experience to speak English. It’s very hard to follow up the lessons”
Pauline O’Reilly, a senator of Green party, mentioned international students need more attention that they had before. She mentioned “Students come here to study the language, but also to know the culture…It is important to give them a fair class.”
A senator from Fine Gael, Aisling Dolan, shared her view with students, saying that “As an abroad student myself, I know how hard it is to study in a foreign country”. The senator noted that the issues of international students could be considered in the adjustment for SUSI, a grant award for undergraduate students in the state, which not yet eligible for non-EU students.
Padraig Hennigan, Principal Officer at Department of Education and Skills, and Eoin O’Broin, a member of the Dáil also shared the concerns during the meeting.
In March 2021, with an increasing issues related to delivery riders in Dublin, Minister of Trade Leo Varadka joined in a meeting with Fiachra O’Luain, founder of ELSU, and Deliveroo riders to review employment law.