Let them go to regional colleges

 

Sir, – The recent comments by Minister for Education Joe McHugh, stating that students who can’t afford to go to university should consider regional options (Home News, August 14th) are elitist and imply that studying in university is only for the wealthy.

This is not the kind of message that young people who aspire to go to third-level should be hearing from the Minister for Education and Skills.

These comments come at a time when Ireland has the second highest third-level fees in Europe, an average student grant is not nearly enough to live on, many private accommodation firms are charging extortionate rents and the higher education sector itself has been starved of funding over the past decade.

A college degree for those who choose that route is now akin to what a Leaving Certificate was in the 1980s. Equal access to good quality third-level education is the cornerstone of any growing economy. There needs to be long-term thinking about how to fund the sector and how to ensure that every student has the same opportunity to attend college regardless of their financial means.

I hope also that all parties will note that approximately 80,000 new student voters have been registered to vote by students’ unions and USI in the past five years and recent referendums have shown a marked increase in the youth vote. – Yours, etc,

LAURA HARMON,

Former president of the

Union of Students in Ireland

(2014/2015),

Stoneybatter, Dublin 7.