Archive for November 3rd, 2010

Where do we go from here?

3 November 2010

By Lisa Marie Griffith

 It seems increasingly likely that from September Undergraduate Students will have to pay up to €3,000 in fees. The Irish Times reported on Monday that this would consist of the €1,500 registration fee which they currently pay and up to a further €1,500 on a ‘new student contribution’. While on Monday it looked like the suggestion of an increase in the registration fees would at least cause ‘tension in the government’, Tuesday brought news that the Greens have given in once more and have supported the increase of €1,000 in registration fees to bring them up to €2,500. Savings from the educational sector through an increase in registration fees are expected to yield €80 million for the Irish Revenue. Today students take to the streets to object against this registration fee increase but it seems unlikely that the government will back down.

How exactly is it proposed that students will pay these fees? Well presumably the government assumes that middle class parents across the country will fork out the cash for their children but what about everyone else? Yesterday the Department of Education ruled out the possibility of putting in place an Australian-type  loan scheme to cover the increased amount which students are being asked to pay. This will send those struggling to pay the fees to part-time work (if they can get it) and to banks for loans.

As someone who benefitted during the Celtic Tiger and did not have to pay fees this is a horrifying prospect. Cutbacks across the board will make it even more difficult for school goers to make it to college, or at least without building up huge personal debt. I had several friends who went to college in the UK and facilitated this through bank loans which were in ready supply in Britain. Experiencing this culture of borrowing at a personal level to both pay for college fees and other expenses has meant that once they left college at 21 or 22 they were saddled with huge debts and had a much more relaxed view to just taking out a loan and building their debt further.

But without fees where can Irish Universities go? Read more