Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare-South and Chair of the Oireachtas Education Committee, Fiona O’Loughlin, has called for targeted supports for children from less well-off backgrounds.

Deputy O’Loughlin was commenting as the Higher Education Authority (HEA) published a breakdown of the socio-economic background of students attending higher education institutions in Ireland. The report also found that students from more advantaged areas were likely to earn more after graduation.

She said, “This is an important piece of analysis. It unfortunately confirms what we have already been aware of, that where someone comes from appears to dictate how well they will fair in education and in their working life, more so than their ability.

“The Education Committee has already been advised that young people, who are from less affluent backgrounds are more likely to struggle and lack access to opportunities that are freely available to those from more well-off communities. It is disappointing that this head start is carrying on into adulthood.

“Education is meant to be the great leveller, but we are learning that it cannot do all of the work alone. Equality of opportunity can only go so far, we need to move beyond it to an approach which equalises the conditions in which young people grow.

“The Government must urgently step up efforts to address the ongoing housing and homelessness crisis. With almost 4,000 children in emergency accommodation, the experiences of these children could follow them for decades to come unless it is addressed.

“Fianna Fáil believe that a fund to support children in education experiencing homelessness must be provided”, she concluded.