A University College Cork (UCC) mature student revealed she has been sleeping under a bridge by night in a bid to secure an education to make a better life for her daughter.

Dorothea Mages, 41, had been living in rented accommodation near Blarney with her husband Sebastian and 17-month-old daughter Katrina.

But after a car crash that left Sebastian unable to work because of neck injuries, the family were unable to afford the rent and moved to Bantry last July where accommodation was cheaper.

Mages, originally from Canada, thought that she would have to put her university dreams on hold due to their financial crisis. But she was determined not to give up and vowed to continue with her biological and environmental sciences course no matter what.

This meant studying in UCC library until 2 a.m. before going to a bridge near the Mardyke to sleep away the remaining hours before college each day.

However, head of security Pat Cotter was alerted to her situation by Caitríona Twomey of Penny Dinners and contacted their welfare officer Kate Quinlan. And now UCC’s Students’ Union have put an end to her nightmare with a student assistance grant.

“Dorothea’s case is very severe, but there are still a lot of people staying on couches, in hostels or in cars,” Twomey said.

She urged students facing such uncertainty to come forward and contact the Students’ Union in UCC.