INCREASING THIRD LEVEL FEES WOULD OSTRICISE COUNTLESS STUDENTS23rd August 2011
Any increase in third level college fees will have a devastating effect on countless families across the constituency. I am outraged by the whisperings that severe changes in college fees are coming down the line and am vehemently opposed to any increases in such.
This follows a statement made by Minister Ruairi Quinn earlier this week where he refused to give any guarantees that third level fees would not be reintroduced, only saving that the cost to the state of third level education has increased and that savings must be made across the education budget. Minister Quinn conceded that it is “hard to see” how higher education can meet the targets set for it by Government without new revenue streams.
Any increase in third level fees would cause serious hardships for those attempting to further their education.
Families today are being hit with increased costs from every direction. It is unconscionable to raise the costs of education to a level which would put it beyond the reach of countless people. It is my belief that providing an educated and skilled work force is essential to moving out of our current economic difficulties. Minister Quinn himself stated that a good educational system acts as a pension fund for the rest of the nation, yet he is considering making third level education aspirational instead of accessible, thereby crippling us into the future in a time where we are trying to grow as a nation.
The uncertainty over the future of college fees is particularly upsetting on a week where thousands of students across Tipperary and Offaly received their leaving cert results. After years of hard work they are now excited about moving forward with their careers or commencing colleges and universities. CAO offers will be granted next week, but how many of these students will be unable to attend or finish their college courses if fees rise? We need education for our students not emigration.
Students today are struggling to put themselves through college. Grants have been cut yet costs remain high between fees, rent and the cost of living as well as books. I believe that any increase in college fees will have a hugely detrimental impact, particularly on families with more than one child in third level education.
Throughout my career the issue of college fees has been of paramount importance. As part of the previous administration this was a key issue for me, in the last Budget I ensured that increases in third level fees were not introduced. Minister Quinn had signed a petition organized by the Union of Students, Ireland declaring that he would not cut grants or increase fees. I am calling on him to stand by his pledge in the coming months.