DCU Students’ Union President, Paul Doherty, has hit back at criticism from anti student-cuts group Free Education for Everyone (FEE) over DCU’s student loan deal with Bank of Ireland (BOI).
The deal will see BOI offer loans to parents and guardians of undergraduate DCU students over a period of up to eight years to cover the cost of the annual student contribution charge. The charge currently stands at €2,250.
FEE have criticised the deal, saying that although it will be students that will incur the debt, they cannot apply for the loans themselves.
Responding to the criticism, Doherty told The College View, “I welcomed this scheme because spreading the Student Contribution Charge over a longer period of time would help families deal with the financial strain at the beginning of the year.
“This is not a long-term solution but a short term one that I hope will lead to a long term goal of achieving a more accessible 3rd level education system. Being unable to afford the large cost at the beginning of the year may be a deciding factor in attending University and I hope this option will help those in need if financial support to make this decision.”
Doherty also confirmed to The College View that DCU students will be given the opportunity to voice their opinion on third-level funding in the coming year. “The students’ of DCU will have the opportunity in the coming academic year to voice their opinion on funding method for fees and I look forward to having a concrete platform on which to represent the student body on this issue.”
FEE member, Gerard Madden, attacked Doherty after he welcomed the deal. “After the well-chronicled problems with the student loan system in the US and elsewhere, with the number of people who are simply unable to repay rising constantly, it boggles the mind that a representative of student interests like DCU Students’ Union President Paul Doherty can believe a system which ladens students with debt will ‘ease the financial strain on many students and their families’.”
The new loan scheme with BOI means a discounted variable rate of interest (currently 5.1%) will be charged for the duration of the course. Once the student has graduated, a graduate variable rate of interest (currently 9.7%) will be charged on the remainder of the loan. Repayments will be at the rate of €100 per month.
DCU Director of Finance, Ciaran McGivern launched the scheme in July. Similar loan schemes exists in a number of other third-level institutions, including Trinity College and other institutions are expected to announce deals in the coming weeks, including Dublin Institute of Technology.
Aoife Mullen is our News Editor