Updated: 04/10/17 : 05:43:34Printable Version
Over 200 Sligo students will take part in today's demonstration in Dublin demanding Minister for Education Richard Bruton delivers a timeline on the future of higher education funding. It has been announced by the Minister for Education that there will be no long-term outline of a third-level funding model in next week’s budget.
The demonstration, which is expected to draw over 5,000 students across Ireland to Dublin, will be leaving Custom House Quay at 1pm and marching to the Department of the Taoiseach. Second-level student Jane Hayes-Nally from Cork, IT Tallaght lecturer Dr Martin Marjoram, and parent Annette Quijney from Dublin will be some of the speakers calling on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills to make a historic long-term decision to invest in a publicly-funded third level education model.
USI President Michael Kerrigan warned that, ‘Students are taking to the streets because education is in the red. The government have been kicking the can down the road on the issue of higher education funding, while 10 out of 14 Institutes of Technology are in serious financial difficulty being starved of funding. It’s time to invest, and it’s time to make the right decision to publicly invest in third-level education.’
Mr Kerrigan went on to say, ‘In a country where generations may never get a mortgages or a home, saddling more debt onto children or increasing fees cannot be the answer to plugging the funding gap for their education. An income-contingent student loan outlined in the Cassels report is a drastic increase in fees from €3,000 to €5,000 a year in disguise. The moment we accept higher fees and a loan scheme, we are saddling people with a minimum of €20,000 of debt and forcing them to emigrate.’
The union claims an income-contingent student loan will be unstainable and will devastate communities, drastically reduce access to higher education and push the best and brightest to emigrate. USI fears graduates would be pushed out of the housing market as evidence from New Zealand shows that 51% of banks that received applications from clients with student debt had indicated that student loans were the contributing factor in rejecting finance - with 34% of those likely to be rejected being mortgages.
USI is campaigning for the Government to rule out any possible introduction of an income contingent loan scheme in Budget 2018, and to reduce the Student Contribution Charge by a minimum of €250. The union is also calling for an increase to student supports by reversing the cuts made to the student grant in 2011 and 2012 to assist students cover the drastic increases in the cost of going to college.