Third-level education and loans system


A chara, – Under the proposed income-contingent student loan scheme, graduates would take on a debt roughly equal to the size of a 10 per cent deposit on the national average price of a house in Ireland. Graduates would spend years paying off this student-loan debt, instead of saving for their first home. In this brave new world, the only people who would be able to afford to buy their own home would be those who are fortunate enough to be able to rely on the “Bank of Mum and Dad” – yet another socially regressive aspect of the proposed new scheme. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

A chara, – Your editorial “Third-level funding: dodging difficult decisions” (May 9th) argues that “the argument that such a [student loans] system would deter students from poorer backgrounds attending third level does not stand up”.

On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence to support that argument. Research into the area of student debt, and debt aversion more generally, has found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to be excluded from education if required to take out loans to do so. Evidence of these debt burden effects is evident in the research of Prof Claire Callender (2006), Callender (again) and Dr Jonathan Jackson (2008), and debt policy expert Mark Huelsman’s report The Debt Divide (2015).

Ireland’s higher education sector desperately needs to address the issue of diminishing resources and ballooning student numbers, but we should reject any approach that excludes students from poorer and minority backgrounds. That includes the proposed student loan scheme. – Is mise,


School of Politics

and International Relations,

University College Dublin,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – The debate on the merits or otherwise of income-contingent student loans sidesteps the larger question of where the responsibility for funding the education system actually lies.

Requiring students to pay individually for their tuition disregards the fact that education is a socio-economic investment in the future, from which all of society ultimately benefits.

After the economic collapse of 2008, we managed to find €60 billion at fairly short notice to rescue the banks. Any kind of loan system merely turns students into cannon fodder for these same loan sharks, speculators and financial gamblers.

Since 2008, the world has collectively contributed about $17 trillion to save the global banking system. This is enough money to completely eradicate world hunger for 600 years.

When money is needed, it can be found. How much more equitable and functional our society would be, if we could treat relatively low-cost services like education, healthcare, housing and transport with the same kind of urgency. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.