DCU Students’ Union President, Paul Doherty, has confirmed a referendum on funding third level education is to be held this semester.
Speaking to The College View, Doherty said: “it was mandated through student council that it has to happen this semester”. A date has yet to be set for the referendum but Doherty hopes it will be held before Budget 2013.
The referendum will decide what funding model DCU students want the SU to campaign for on their behalf.
Last year, DCU held Ireland’s first referendum on funding higher education and students voted in favour of a fully free third level education system. However it was declared null and void by former DCU SU President, Ed Leamy, after the voting system used was deemed to be in breech of the DCU SU constitution.
Doherty told The College View that they are looking at using an online voting system for the referendum. “We’re working on it all summer and I think it was almost announced a bit prematurely because there was a lot of work to do on it.”
However, Doherty confirmed it needs to be secure before it is used. “I’m very cautious about launching something I’m not 100% confident in that it’s going to work and it’s going to be safe.”
Doherty told The College View he hopes there won’t be a repeat of what happened during the last referendum and the SU will finally be given a mandate. “Hopefully all goes well and we’ll get an answer and we’ll finally know what our students are thinking on the fees.”
In his pre-election interview with The College View last April, Doherty said his stance on fees was “if you can pay for it, you should” but said he will stand by the outcome of the referendum because “that is what students want”.
DCU SU Education officer, Aaron Clogher, believes that students must be realistic when deciding on what to vote for. Clogher also admits that himself, Paul and Neil, all vary in their own personal opinion on the issue of fees.
“We all take in different personal views on the fees issue”, Clogher said. “The view of the national union is not what I’d share, I think it’s probably too hopeful in the current economic climate that free fees could be a long-term prospect.
“We can campaign for that, and hope to come out and break even. I think where we are at the minute now, we know obviously that they’re going to increase year on year for the next few years, we’re looking at €3,000.
“I think we have to be realistic about it, the fees issue is one that is always going to be there while people are paying ‘fees’. I don’t know are we paying fees, more so a student contribution, because we’re certainly not covering the cost to educate us.”
Doherty told The College View last April there is the possibility in the next referendum of having a DCU funding policy as another funding model option.
Aoife Mullen is our News Editor.
Image Credit: Frankieroberto