Quinn declines to make pledge on fees


Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has said it would be misleading for him to make any promises regarding the cost of third-level education ahead of the Budget.

Mr Quinn’s comments are likely to anger student leaders who have called on him to honour a Union of Students in Ireland (USI) pre-election pledge in which he promised to oppose  any new form of third-level fees.

Over 20,000 students are expected at tomorrow’s "Stop Fees" protest in Dublin organised by the USI.

Speaking this afternoon, Mr Quinn refused to give any assurances on the contents of the Budget. "We're not in that space anymore”, he said.

“The politics of promises, if you like, in the present economic situation are such and are on a scale that I don't think any of us fully realise that no such promises can be given and any such promises would be misleading."

The Government is expected to raise the cost of the student contribution charge (formerly the student registration charge) from €2,000 in 2012, despite the €500 increase in the charge which was introduced in Budget 2011.

Cuts in post graduate research grants and maintenance support are also being considered. Fine Gael’s election manifesto also promised no further increase in third level fees.

Its manifesto said: “We will not increase the student registration fee further. Instead, we will pursue greater pay and non-pay efficiencies in the third level system through greater flexibility in working arrangements, in line with the Croke Park Agreement.’’