By Lisa Marie Griffith
The four-year plan has been set and it looks like student registration fees will increase from €1,500 to €2,000 from next year. But surely this is just fees through the back door and there is also no guarantee that students won’t face another hike in fees over the next couple of years. A few weeks ago we ran a poll at Pue’s to see how people felt about the reintroduction of full fees and there are our results.
56 people undertook the survey: 36% were postgraduate, 18% were university lecturers, 18% were postdoctoral fellows, 16% were concerned citizens (i.e. none of the above), 11 % were undergraduates and 2% were parents of undergraduate students.
We asked if fees should be reintroduced universally, be reintroduced but vary according to income or not be reintroduced at all. Just 18% believe that they should be reintroduced universally. 38% believe they should not be introduced but 45% believe that fees should be reintroduced and vary according to income. The results show that the majority of people are prepared to accept students (and parents of students) to take a hit in further austerity measures.
Considering what has been seen so far of the governments plan for our financial future I don’t believe that fees will remain at €2,000 for long. Student grants are also likely to be cut or even reduced to cut spending to education. This will have a detremental affect on students form low-income families especially as job shortages mean that part-time work is more difficult to come by for those who work their way through college. With this in mind, surely maintaining grants but reintroducing fees to those who can afford it iis the best solution to the problem?
There is a need for any changes which are introduced to be carried out after great thought to ensure that financial burdens are carried by those who can afford them and that third level education does not become a right of those who are born to wealth. In the current crisis the government seems to preoccupied with cutting and its unclear/unlikely that too much planning is going into the future of education. But perhaps the increase of just €500 in September will buy the education sector some time to come up with a more strategic plan. If we can provide one thing outside of debt to our future generations it should be an opportunity for a real education.