Students to hold national demonstration for third-level funding

Union calls on Government to invest in publicly-funded third level education

The Union of Students in Ireland will hold a  national demonstration to be held on October 4th in Dublin. Photograph:  Conor McCabe/USI

The Union of Students in Ireland will hold a national demonstration to be held on October 4th in Dublin. Photograph: Conor McCabe/USI

 

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has announced they will hold a national demonstration on October 4th calling on the Government to invest in publicly-funded third-level education.

The demonstration, which is expected to draw over 5,000 students from across Ireland, will call on government officials and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills to invest in the publicly-funded third level education model as outlined in the Cassells report published last year.

The report warned that the funding system for the State’s higher education was not sustainable and would lead to a sharp decline in the quality of graduates unless tackled soon.

The USI is also calling for greater grant investment in Budget 2018. USI President Michael Kerrigan has warned that “education is in the red”.

“Don’t be fooled by the propaganda of a student loan. 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 €20,000 of mortgage-modelled debt and forcing them to emigrate. The message would be loud and clear to future students: take your €20,000 debt, your degree, and get out,” Mr Kerrigan said.

The USI President noted that “saddling more debt” onto children cannot be the answer to increasing access to higher education.

“This demonstration is the first of many because of inaction from Government to invest in a eroding education system,” he added.

The USI has warned that an income-contingent loan scheme is not a viable solution to third level funding as a debt-burden would deter people from applying to college.

The USI is campaigning for the Government to rule out any possible introduction of an income-contingent loan scheme in Budget 2018, reduce the Student Contribution Charge by a minimum of €250, and invest €1.26bn into higher education over the next decade in a bid to make the brave decision to publicly invest in third-level education.

The demonstration is supported by members of the Coalition for Publicly Funded Higher Education, including the Irish Second Level Students’ Union, and the National Youth Council of Ireland.