Students brand government ‘liars’ over tuition fee promises

Ruairí Quinn Signs USI Pledge on Fees Grants – YouTube

A STUDENTS’ UNION has accused government TDs of lying in pre-election promises not to increase tuition fees for third-level colleges.

Both coalition parties pledged to avoid fee increases before February’s general election – but not a single government TD is now willing to restate that promise, according to the Union of Students in Ireland.

The union today launched a campaign of national newspaper advertisements highlighting the perceived turnaround, including the name and phone number of every government TD.

Current education minister Ruairí Quinn and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore both publicly signed a pledge to “oppose and campaign against” any form of fee increases. Fine Gael’s election manifesto also contained a vow “not [to] increase the student registration fee further”.

However, the government has recently ruled out a student loan scheme, leading to speculation that fees could be set to increase. Ruairí Quinn has warned that there are no “new crocks of gold” to fund higher education.

USI president Gary Redmond said: “Young people turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote in the recent general election. Many of these young people were influenced in their decision by the Labour Party’s commitment not to increase third level fees in any form.

“The credibility of the Coalition Government and its political parties is under the spotlight on this issue and the USI will vigorously campaign to ensure that pre-election pledges are honoured.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said it could not make any comment in advance of the Budget.

Students’ union condemns Govt proposal to abolish postgraduate grants

THE UNION OF Students in Ireland has spoken out against Government proposals to abolish all financial support for new postgraduates from next year.

The union claims that by not giving postgraduate students maintenance support and grants, they will emigrate in search of other work and study opportunities.

“News of this proposal has been greeted with shock and dismay by students, parents and families,” said USI President Gary Redmond. “The  Programme for Government promises a surgeon’s scalpel would be taken to  waste and inefficiency in Higher Education. Instead a butcher’s cleaver  appears to have been taken to student supports such as the Maintenance  Grant.”

This morning, the Sunday Business Post revealed that the Government plans to scrap state support for new postgraduate students in order to save about €50 million per year.

“In practice, entry to many professions requires  some form of a postgraduate qualification. Families who are not in a  position to pay fees for postgraduate courses and pay for other  associated costs would find it impossible for their children to progress  to postgraduate courses,” continued Redmond.

There is not even any pretence at fairness in this  proposal. A student, no matter how talented, would not be able to  continue in education any further than their own financial  resources would permit.”

The value of this year’s Government maintenance grants ranges from €315 to €6,100 depending on family income and commute to college.

The USI has expressed its disappointment in the Education Minister Ruairi Quinn because of his pre-election promises to ensure there would be no increases in college fees or cuts to maintenance grants.

Indeed, many Labour TDs are not happy with the proposals.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon, TD for Dublin West Patrick Nulty said he would fight “tooth and nail” against proposals that were floated in the media today.

“I think it is vitally important that as much pressure as possible is brought to bear on the Cabinet to make sure the Budget is fair and does not undermine young people’s opportunity to receive an education,” he said.

“Abolishing grants would be a negative move – especially when other savings can be made,” added the newly-elected TD.

He suggested the Department of Education can save money by looking at the subsidies paid to fee-paying schools and the university pay scales.

“If we are going to grow our economy, we have to make sure that education is accessible to every single citizen,” he concluded.

The USI has organised a national protest to be held on Wednesday at Parnell Square in Dublin from 1.30pm. The union expects tens of thousands of people to attend the rally to put pressure on the Government to “protect education and Ireland’s future”.

Source – The Journal

 

 

 

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