Taoiseach dismisses UK and US style loan scheme

The College View: Cait Caden writes about the proposed Student Loan Scheme that prompted a mass demonstration in Dublin earlier this month,

Thousands of students took part in the USI National demonstration in Dublin City Centre calling for reductions in student fees ahead of Budget 2018 and an increase in publicly funded higher education. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thousands of students took part in the USI National demonstration in Dublin City Centre calling for reductions in student fees ahead of Budget 2018 and an increase in publicly funded higher education. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Leo Varadkar’s unclear plans for the proposed ‘Student Loan Scheme’ outraged the Union of Students in Ireland, who led the march for publicly funded education in Dublin on October 3rd.

The Taoiseach ruled out the introduction of a British or American style loan scheme system which would leave students “saddled with enormous debts”. He is yet to outline the scheme he wants for the students of Ireland or state how it might affect those benefiting from DARE, HEAR and SUSI.

Thousands of students have taken to the streets to make it clear, a week before the budget, “that we’re not going to stand over a situation of loan schemes” said Síona Cahill, USI’s VP for Equality and Citizenship.

Varadkar believes third level students “should make a contribution” to the cost of education although the USI argues that education is not a privilege but a right and the onus should not be put on students to fund it.

Confusion still surrounds what effect a loan scheme would have on Irish students. The scheme emerged from the Cassells Report by Peter Cassells, chair of the government higher education working group. Cassells declared the “current situation is unsustainable” and that the “status quo was not an option”.

The Cassells report did offer two other options for fixing the problem in third level Irish education funding. One of which was to publicly fund it which the USI determine to be the only fair solution.

The consensus from DCU students at the march was that if this scheme comes to fruition, students depending on DARE, HEAR and SUSI programmes will be seriously affected.

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