Reduction of student fees a case of some done, a lot more to do
Labour spokesperson on Further and Higher Education Senator Annie Hoey has reiterated Labour’s call for the abolition of student fees to make Higher Education fully publicly funded.
Following the announcement of an additional payment for students in receipt of grants, Senator Hoey said we must aspire to free higher level education to provide equality of opportunity and outcome to all.
Senator Hoey said:
“Today’s announcement from the Minister of extra payments for student grant recipients is welcome, and will provide much sought after relief in the short term for students paying the highest fees in Europe.
“The core problem in Ireland’s Further and Higher Education sector is that we have too many financial barriers in the way. In a ‘wealthy’ country with a bonanza budget announced last month, the idea that the burden of funding should continue to shift from the State to the student is wrong.
“When I was president of the Union of Students in Ireland, we knew then that the road had run out on the funding model for Higher Education. This was born out by the findings of the Cassells Report in 2016. The Cassells report gave us a road map for how to make our third level institutions free at point of entry. The fact that we need this additional intervention for students in receipt of grants from Minister Harris is proof yet again that our further and higher education is not fit for purpose.
“Last week I joined students on DCU campus at 11:11am to support the National Student Walk Out campaign. Students there were talking about their experience of education in Ireland including how some were without accomodation for entire academic years, struggling to cover the costs of books, materials, accommodation, food and travel for college. This extra bonus payment won’t address the scale of problem we have students facing into right now.
“Full and equal access to higher education should become a reality in Ireland. We need radical action from Minister Harris to deliver meaningful change for students at further and higher level. It’s time for Minister Harris to come before the Seanad and outline his plans for future funding for Higher Education and how we are going to take care of our students struggling with the cost of living. Now that we have a full dedicated seat at cabinet for Further and Higher Education, I see no reason why students should not be given priority.”