Students' union calls for cap on registration fees

 

THE UNION of Students in Ireland has called for a cap on registration fees for third-level students following a warning that they would have to rise to maintain quality of services and avoid a funding crisis.

USI vice-president Dan O’Neill said yesterday: “The 67 per cent rise in fees [this year] was a hard hit for students and families. Everybody has to take a hit, but we’ve already taken one. Student fees have increased by 124 per cent since 2002.”

His comments came after UCC president Dr Michael Murphy warned that the Government’s failure to support higher-level fees would leave no choice but to increase registration fees to combat the funding shortfall.

Fine Gael spokesman on education Brian Hayes said he believed students and parents were certain to be charged even more “fees by the backdoor”.

“Batt O’Keeffe is using students as ‘cash cows’ to generate cash for an underfunded third-level sector,” he added.

Green Party TD Paul Gogarty said he couldn’t see the €500 million identified as needed by the Higher Education Authority to sustain quality of services coming from registration fees.

“The reality is that the money isn’t there to fund ambitious third-level plans at the moment. We have to prioritise primary level, so they can get there,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said it was unfair for students and families already hit by the increase this year to expect to take another hit in the budget.

“Hiking registration fees is about filling holes that were cut in the core grant,” he said.

Registration fees in other countries were far less than those proposed in Ireland, he said. In Germany the cost was €1,000 a year, in Austria €726 and in Luxembourg €300.