Third-level education and loans system


Sir, – It always amazes me that when considering third-level fees, no consideration is ever given to the notion of altering fees based on the courses of education studied.

We have a huge shortage of qualified applicants for intellectually and financially rewarding careers in information technology (IT), for example, and yet the same fees system is applied to IT courses as to any other area of study, including many which are virtually certain to provide a only temporary distraction en route to other career destinies.

Suffering from a shortage of new teachers some years ago, the UK implemented a programme that not only waived fees but actually paid students a stipend to pursue those qualifications. When the teacher shortage ended, the successful subsidy scheme was then wound up. Many Irish teaching aspirants crossed the water to gain their qualifications under the scheme and later returned to take up posts in Irish schools.

The cost of educating people is typically only a fraction of the return gained through income taxes on those who subsequently spend their lives working in Ireland. At the same time, the combination of fees and the commitment of time that could otherwise be spent earning a living makes college an impossibility for many.

It therefore seems a prudent investment to reduce or remove fees for, and even to subsidise, students who take up courses for which jobs vacancies will be available locally. Economics is frequently described as the study of incentives, and we should not be ashamed to incentivise our best and brightest to make educational choices that benefit the State as well as themselves. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 7.