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Hardship payments show students still feeling the pinch

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Galway’s students are still feeling the pinch of recession, and relying on State help to tide them over during hard times.

New figures reveal that more than a three-quarters of a million euro was paid through a hardship fund to students attending Galway’s two third level institutes.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said some €759,498 was dispersed to third level students in Galway through the Student Assistance Fund.

That included some €485,954 to students of NUI Galway, and some €273,544 for students of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.

The hardship pay-outs relate to the academic year 2014-2015.

Minister Bruton said the Student Assistance Fund, “provides financial supports to students who are experiencing short-term or ongoing financial difficulties.”

The fund is administered locally within each higher education institution, he said, and the monies are provided on an annual basis to each institution by the Higher Education Authority.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, some €6.6 million was paid out by the State, to hard-pressed students under this scheme.

It amounted to €8.35 million nationally in 2013-2014; €11 million the previous year and 9 million the year before that.

GMIT said its students cannot use the fund for tuition fees or to cover student loans. “The objective of this fund is to assist students in a sensitive and compassionate manner who might otherwise, because of financial reasons suffer hardship or be unable to continue their third level studies. The fund is intended to tackle educational disadvantage by providing financial support to enable students to fully benefit from their third level studies,” GMIT said.

It is to be used to pay for day-to-day expenses that are necessary to allow them to participate in third level, including rent, transport, food, medical costs, books, and childcare costs. Receipts must be submitted.

“Some students find themselves experiencing financial hardship despite penny counting during their time in the University,” said NUIG Students Union.

It added the fund is designed to “tackle disadvantage by enabling students to fully benefit from their studies.”

Connacht Tribune

Tuam students have warm welcome for Eddie, the Labrador who is already top of the class

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Eddie the dog, Tuam's Mercy Convent newest addition.

A North Galway school has unveiled their newest member – Eddie, the three-year-old Labrador dog.

The new canine recruit works as a therapy, or education, aid for students in Mercy Secondary School, Tuam – and he has already been a huge hit with students.

Scoil Bhride Principal Gearoid Leen has described the dog as an essential part of the learning process within the school.

The pure-bred Labrador is one of just eight community dogs that have been assigned to schools across the country.

This week, the new arrival was introduced to students and parents as part of the learning process. The presence of the dog relaxes students and, apparently, helps with their concentration.

Eddie’s fourth birthday is on March 18, the day after St Patrick’s Day – and, such is his instant popularity, the students have a special celebration in mind.

The newest addition to the secondary school has been trained by the Irish Guide Dogs Association and Eddie, along with his trained handlers Sarah Molloy and Catherine Murphy, now becomes part of the essential learning process within the school.

The Labrador and his handlers work alongside the teachers and educational staff in the school to help reduce stress and increase the learning potential of the students by goal directed interventions.

Together, Eddie and his handlers participate in classroom activities and work with individual students and groups.

Parents have responded positively to the new arriva, saying that more schools should try and apply for the scheme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Claregalway traffic plan is still stuck in neutral

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Stuck...another setback for Claregalway traffic calming scheme.

The long-awaited traffic calming scheme in Claregalway has suffered yet another setback – with engineers now looking at an ‘alternative solution’ amid a dispute over land acquisition.

A meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District heard the Council was seeking to acquire privately-owned lands to progress a surface water drainage scheme at the bridge – but despite protracted negotiations, the Council had hit ‘difficulties in finding a solution’.

Until the surface water issue was sorted, the long-approved traffic calming scheme could not progress and because of the delays, the local authority was now looking at an alternative plan.

Cllr Jim Cuddy (Ind) hit out at what he called ‘inordinate delays’ to progressing the scheme and said it was almost three years since Councillors approved planning permission for the traffic calming scheme.

“People can only put up with so much and this is a national primary road,” said Cllr Cuddy.

“Claregalway seems to be a forgotten area – an area totally neglected by the Council and by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).”

Regular road flooding outside Centra in the town meant a drainage scheme was required and Senior Engineer Damien Mitchell said the traffic calming scheme would not go ahead until that was completed.

“We are still having trouble acquiring the land at the bridge. It is quite sensitive at the moment and we are looking at alternatives because it is taking so long to find a solution.

“We thought we were reaching a solution recently but the situation has changed again,” said Mr Mitchell.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Domestic violence hits Covid heights

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Galway saw a 43 per cent hike in the number of Garda call-outs for domestic violence last year compared to before the pandemic.

But experts have warned the worst may be yet to come – with predictions that people fleeing domestic violence are more likely to present now that restrictions are lifted and services resume.

That’s the fear of Dr Carol Baumann, head of the domestic abuse service at Cope Galway which runs Galway’s refuge Modh Eile House. The service has seen a twelve per cent increase in demand in the last year compared to pre-pandemic times.

It corresponds with an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents responded to by Galway Gardaí in 2021.

Figures released by the Aontú party found there were 1,792 domestic violence incidents reported to Gardaí here, a jump of 285 compared to 2020 and a hike of 539 incidents on the figures for 2019. That’s an increase of 19 and 43 per cent respectively.

Dr Baumann believes these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the situation on the ground.

“In general women only go to the guards where physical abuse has taken place or there is a risk of it, but abuse is much more pervasive. At the moment life is feeling abnormal and when the world is not feeling stable, you’re not going to destabilise it more by seeking help,” she opined.

“I think the real increase will come after the pandemic not during it.

“When you don’t feel safe, when you feel you have no control, you don’t have autonomy over your choices, that’s domestic violence. The pandemic aggravated that, but it didn’t cause it. What the pandemic did was unmask intimate partner abuse – urging us to limit our contacts, limit our movements, that was music to the ears of somebody who wanted to abuse a partner.”

She fears that many will be coming to the end of their tether after a long two years of restrictions being imposed and lifted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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