Final decision on student fees will not be announced until 6th of December

By Aishling Phelan

Students will have to wait until Budget Day on the 6th of December to find out the government’s final decision on the increase it will impose on student fees.

As 20,000 students took to the streets of Dublin today to protest against an increase in the Student Contribution Charge and cuts to maintenance grants, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn told the Dail that he was reviewing the Higher Education Authority report on funding for higher education and it will be discussed “as part of our budgetary deliberations”.

Students took part in a peaceful protest that saw them march down O’Connell Street and form a rally outside Government Buildings on Merrion Street.

Although the demonstration focused on the hike in fees and cuts to grants, one of the main themes echoed through student chants was the betrayal felt by young people who had previously voted the Labour Party into government.

After Ruairi Quinn signed a pledge written by the USI promising that the Labour Party in government would not cut grants or increase fees under any circumstances, there are now whispers that fees will jump to €5,000 next year.

President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Gary Redmond led the march by chanting, ‘‘Ruairi Quinn keep your promise.’’ Fine Gael also promised no further increases in student fees as part of their pre-election manifesto.

During Redmond’s speech he said that parties had gone into hiding when the issue of student fees was raised. He stated that €70 billion was spent by the government each year, of which €1.5 billion was spent on education.

Students held posters and placards with messages for the government with many stating that they cannot afford to go to college next year if higher fees are introduced. One group held a black coffin with the words ‘RIP recovery’ written across it.

In defence of the U-turn his party has taken with regards education funding, Quinn today blamed the previous Fianna Fail led government stating that Ireland has lost its economic sovereignty because Fianna Fail had signed it away.

As part of the conditions of the EU-IMF bailout, the government must reduce its deficit to below 3 per cent by 2015.

There was an increased Garda presence at this year’s protest amid fears that violence would erupt.

Speaking to The College View, Deputy President of the USI, Colin Murphy said, ‘‘If the contribution charge does go up it will not necessarily mean an increase in budgets or any increase in maintenance quality for courses or academic offerings at third level. Up until now every time the student contribution charge went up or other charges were increased it was met by a corresponding decrease in funding from the government.’’

 

 

 

 

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