More than one in three students here say they are experiencing serious or very serious financial difficulties, according to a survey of students in which 10% of all those attending college in Ireland participated.
The study, which was overseen by the Higher Education Authority, found that almost half of all full-time students work during term time, and half of those who do so say that without their jobs they would not be able to afford to go to college.
The sixth Eurostudent Survey reports on aspects of life for higher education students, including their social and living conditions, across 30 countries.
The Irish report finds that students are increasingly reliant on their parents or families for support.
It finds that the level of financial support received from parents has a direct impact on the amount of hours a student works, and that students who work are losing out in their studies as a result.
More than 46% of full-time students in Ireland work during term time. Of those who work, more than half say they work to cover living costs.
Over 47% of full-time undergraduate and 52% of full-time postgraduate students say that without their paid job they could not afford to be a student.
The study refers to research which shows "a clear negative correlation between the amount of time spent in employment while at college and overall grades achieved", because students are less able to devote significant amounts of time to their education.
It finds that while unemployed students spend an average of 18.6 hours per week on personal study, for employed students this falls to only 15.1 hours.
The study says that while at first glance this difference may appear to be relatively minor, "it should be borne in mind that over the course of a semester the cumulative effect of this gap is more than a typical working week of 40 hours".
While the average student monthly income is €754, average expenses are €832. Accommodation is the biggest single expense, amounting to 40% of spending.
The study finds the cost of accommodation has increased substantially in recent years.
It records high levels of dissatisfaction with the cost of accommodation.
More than 41% of undergraduates living in student accommodation are dissatisfied with the cost, with 17% expressing strong dissatisfaction.
The study says that the fact that monthly outgoings are close to and often exceed the total amount of income received, illustrates the extent to which all students depend on external financial assistance to meet their needs, as well as the financial burden that higher education places on others beyond those actually studying.
According to the study, students in Institutes of Technology appear more likely to experience financial difficulties than students in Universities.
This finding tallies with separate data which shows that students attending IT’s are more likely to come from poorer backgrounds.
While this report does not look directly at the impact of social class on student finances, it does find "a clear relationship" between the level of parental education and the extent to which students feel financially secure.
It finds that students whose parents have higher levels of education are less likely to feel financially insecure.
Over 45% of students whose parents were educated only to Junior Cert level experience financial difficulty, compared to 38% of students whose parents finished education at the Leaving Cert, and 33% of students whose parents completed higher education.
The study finds that fewer than one in three students here (32%) are in receipt of some kind of state grant aid.