Off the wall: art students protest over increased course fees


A “CARNIVAL of protest” over what they see as a 73 per cent increase in registration and course fees has been staged by art and design students at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

The increases are due to come into effect this autumn and the students say it would mean many of them would be unable to afford completing their courses. The BAAD art exhibition, named after BA in art and design, aims to highlight opposition to the fee hike and the risk that many students may not be able to complete their course as a result.

The six-year part-time course involves almost 200 students between the institute’s campuses in Galway and Castlebar, Co Mayo. A number of established professional artists in the west are among its graduates. The students say it is unfair, given that there is a 12.5 per cent rise for full-time students on similar courses, and their own fees had been subject to an increase that will effectively double course costs in two years.

Spokeswoman Hilary Morley said the exhibition was held to “cheer us up” and to show off the work of students and graduates.

“The college authorities are claiming to have found what they are calling ‘an anomaly’ to justify this disproportionate and penal increase,” the students said, warning that many, including those now in fifth year, would be unable to complete the BA.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology said yesterday it was involved in communication with the students and should have introduced the new fee structure this year, but decided to “hold off for a year in order to give students time to organise their finances”.

It said the Government had broken the link between tuition and non-tuition (student service provision) fees, and a new student contribution charge must rise from €2,000 to €2,250 on Government instructions.

The part-time art and design students had not been charged non-tuition fees before, but now all students had to be treated equally. The institute was “not in a position to fund part-time students”, the institute said.