Labour vows to abolish college fee rise


EDUCATION:THE €500 increase in the third-level student services charge would be reversed by Labour in government, party education spokesman Ruairí Quinn said yesterday.

The increase, he added, was a step too far for students and their families “at a time when we should be encouraging people into education rather than erecting barriers to prevent them”.

Mr Quinn said Labour would also reverse the €200 charge for post-Leaving Cert courses recently introduced by Fianna Fáil.

Such courses, he added, were a pathway to further education for young people, and it was extremely important that people were incentivised to participate in them rather than being forced to pay more for the opportunity.

“We refuse to go back to the days when only the relatively wealthy could count on going to university or when a family could only afford to send one of their children to college,” said Mr Quinn.

He told a Dublin press conference that the education budget had been cut by €1.1 billion since the start of the economic crisis.

Labour’s fiscal plan had earmarked €88 million annually to reinvest in a small number of strategic educational priorities, reflecting the party’s values.

This included €14 million to support its literacy strategy and €3 million to reverse the cut in the national educational psychological service imposed in the Budget.

Mr Quinn pledged to make literacy a national cause with the aim of ensuring that no child left school unable to read and write.

A national literacy strategy would be developed, requiring every school in the State to have an action plan.

The party’s additional funds for education were not a substitute for reform, but intended to complement it. There was also a requirement to ensure maximum return from the current public investment in education.