New Government should strongly consider publicly funded higher education

15 June 2017

Labour Party Senator, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called on the new Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, to strongly consider the publicly funded option of the Cassels Report.

“Firstly, I would like to wish Minister Mitchell O’Connor well in her new role as Minister for Higher Education.

“The Government has been sitting on the report carried out by Peter Cassels into the future of higher education funding for months now. Three options were laid on the table, one of which is publicly funded higher education. The onus is on Minister Mitchell O’Connor to get the ball rolling on this extremely important issue.

“As a former teacher, I firmly believe we need to make major changes to our education system. Equality needs to be reinserted at the heart of our education system and removing barriers to access to third level is a step forward in that regard.

“”We in the the Labour Party have made no secret about the fact that we believe that it is time for college fees to go. Since the publication of the Cassells report, we have argued against student loans. 

“My Labour Seanad colleagues and I will use our Private Members’ Time next month to give weight to that argument.

“In advance of the Budget we will produce a full economic costing for implementing a publicly funded higher education system in Ireland.

“As we see the election of a new Taoiseach, we will hear renewed calls to scrap the USC, instead we should now talk about investing in higher education through the revenue raised by USC.

“We know that employers benefit from a well-educated workforce and they should contribute just a little more towards the National Training Fund. The state should contribute a good bit more.

“My generation of students in the 1990s benefitted from Labour’s belief in free education, it is time for a whole new generation to benefit in this way too.

“Labour’s plan for full and equal access to higher education should become a reality in Ireland”.

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