Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Results of 3rd Level Education Survey

With the imminent announcement of the Leaving Certificate results and subsequent CAO round one offers, it is certainly an exciting and indeed a very stressful time in many households throughout the country. Over the coming days and weeks, students will have to make very serious decisions and choices which will shape their future.  As parents we all wish them success in their endeavours and we will of course do our very best to support them in their future studies and try to ensure they get the opportunities that they deserve to develop and grow.
Those who already have children in 3rd level know only too well of the many challenges to be faced in the coming weeks, months and years. In the difficult economic climate that we now find ourselves in it will be even more difficult for many parents to provide the financial support needed to ensure their children can avail of 3rd level education.
The Irish League of Credit Unions has today published the results of a survey into the costs of third level education in Ireland. The purpose of the study was to give families an idea of what the average monthly costs for students are likely to be, in order to help them budget and plan for the year ahead and indeed the years ahead. In addition to looking at the issue of financing education, the study also highlights how the current financial crisis has impacted on how students view the current jobs market and their future career prospects in Ireland.
The research had two facets – a survey of parents of 3rdlevel students and a survey of students themselves
What did parents say?
Ø  8 in 10 Irish parents support their child with college related costs by contributing €421 per month, an increase on the €410 figure in 2011.
Ø  Monthly income continues to be the most common way in which parents fund their child’s third level education - 44% in 2013 compared to 39% in 2011. However, a further 56% (61% in 2011) are forced to locate finances from other sources. 42% state that they will have to use their savings (38% in 2011), 25% say they will use a credit union loan (11% in 2011), 6% will use a credit card (4% in 2011), 4% will use a bank loan (7% in 2011) and 2% will use a moneylender.
Ø  A typical parent who has been saving for their child’s third level education has been doing so for a total of 8 years on average.
Ø  84% of all parents struggle to cover the cost of third level education.
Ø  The biggest worry voiced by over one third of parents of college students is the fear that their child will not be able to get a job after college. Money issues are the second most pronounced worry amongst a third of all parents (increase from 25% in 2011 to 33% in 2013).
What did the students say?
Ø  College students spend €516 each month on daily expenses (excluding rent and bills). This represents an increase of €32 from 2011. Food is the most expensive element with students spending €182 each month (increase of €34 from 2011).
Ø  Travel is the next most expensive part of student life with students spending €99 on travel each month. Expenses associated with socialising and going out have seen a significant drop from €90 in 2011 to €67 in 2013.
Ø  Female students are spending more on food than male students, with males spending more on socialising and going out. Females are spending more on clothes per month and males are spending more on mobile phones.
Ø  66% of college students have to work to fund their college education.
Ø  The biggest worries that students have are passing exams (75%), not getting a job (55%) and financial debts (53%).
Ø  There has been an improvement in students’ sentiment towards job opportunities at home compared to the 2011 findings. Just over half expect to find work in Ireland.
The findings, particularly the financial realities facing parents and students, are stark. It is clear that students and their parents are experiencing very significant pressure in trying to fund third level education.
In order to make third level education as accessible as possible for students, many credit unions offer a dedicated student loan rate, which is often significantly less that the credit union’s standard rate. Of those credit unions who offer dedicated student loan rates, the average rate is approximately 6% (6.2% APR). Indeed, some credit union offer rates as low as 4% (4.1% APR). When you compare these rates with our so called ‘pillar’ banks, you will see the value on offer in your local credit union. 
We encourage anyone who is looking for educational finance  or who simply wants some advice on planning ahead or budgeting to call into their local credit union and speak to a member of staff.
On behalf of myself and everyone at the Irish League of Credit Unions, we want to take this opportunity to wish all those students who are due to receive their Leaving Cert results the very best of luck and continued success in their studies for the years ahead.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

ILCU publishes research on future outlook for credit unions

I am delighted to present the results of the second comprehensive Amárach research into credit union member (and non-member) attitudes and the future outlook for the Irish credit union movement. As you will see from the detail that follows, the results are heartening for all involved in our movement, despite the current challenges in the financial services sector in general. Credit unions remain popular and trusted, with convenience and community ethos being key drivers of this view. This is in stark contrast to the public perception of banks. In addition, it is worth noting that over two thirds of respondents in the Republic of Ireland agreed that credit unions can play an important role in economic recovery.

Some of the key highlights from the research are as follows:

·       - Half of the adult population in the Republic of Ireland are active credit union members. This is the highest membership penetration rate in the world.

·       - Almost 8o% of adults believe that credit unions are becoming more relevant and almost all believe that our service levels have improved, unlike many of our competitors who are actively reducing the level of service available to their customers.

·       - Credit unions have over three times the number of people who would recommend them than other financial institutions and have substantially fewer people who view them negatively. There is a significant opportunity for credit unions to capitalise on this positive feeling.

·       - Credit unions are seen as being financially stronger than other financial institutions and are the preferred choice for personal loans and car loans. It is worth pointing out that credit unions are open for business and have plenty of funds available to lend. Our personal loan rates are capped at 12% per annum and the average rate charged is close to 10%.

·       - 32% of non-members surveyed said that they are likely to join their credit union during the next year. The challenge for us is to capitalise on this positivity and make sure that these people know that they are welcome in our credit unions, a challenge that I am sure we are up for.

·       - Importantly for our future, there is a huge appetite for our members for more products and services, particularly for electronic services and in shared branching, which would allow members to avail of services through any credit union.

All of this is good news for our movement. It shows that credit unions can thrive in adversity and that they can play a huge positive role in the future of our country.