A fully free system funded by conventional taxation will now be the official stance of the DCU Students’ Union on funding third level education following the referendum last week.
Option 5 on the ballot paper received 634 first preference votes, with 853 votes on the final count.
Derek McKenna, Chairperson of DCU Socialist Party, who campaigned for a fully free system, told The College View: “I think that like us in the Socialist Party, many students believe in the concept of free education as a right, and not a privilege for the wealthy. A huge majority of students gave a “fully free system” their first preference vote.
“We believe that an educated population benefits all of society and not just the individual. That is why we believe that it should be free for all at the point of entry and funded by all through the taxation system.”
DCU Labour also campaigned for students to vote for a fully free system.
1,553 students voted in the referendum, with 30 spoiled votes. The quorum (minimum number of students required to vote in order for the vote to be valid) for the referendum was 1,125 and the quota was 763.
Returning Officer for the Electoral Committee, Steve Conlon told The College View: “No option reached the quota until count 4 which meant that transfers became tedious, but thanks to a very meticulous electoral committee, with particular praise to Aideen Holden, the count went fine.”
Option 2, a graduate tax was the first model to be eliminated, with option 3, a student loan scheme and option 4, a student contribution of €3,000 eliminated in the following counts. Option 1, means tested tuition fees, was the last option to be eliminated.
Both DCU Young Fine Gael and DCU Ogra Fianna Fail campaigned for students to vote for Option 3, the student loan scheme.
Speaking to The College View, Chairperson of DCU YFG, Ryan Hunt said: “While I respect the democratic decision of those who voted in favour of free education, I question how likely it will be for the SU to deliver for students as I believe it simply is not realistic given the present economic situation we are in. I wish the SU the best in their efforts regardless.”
Commenting on how the SU should campaign for free education, McKenna told The College View: “We hope to be in touch with the SU executive soon to discuss the way we think the SU should formulate a campaign. We think the SU should put forward our taxation proposals to fund higher education as a first step.
“We also believe that the SU should be organising protest campaigns similar to those that are occurring all over the country at the moment and become more vocal on this issue. The SU have been given a strong and clear mandate from students, and we expect them to act upon it.”
Fintan Phelan, Chairperson of DCU Ogra Fianna Fail told The College View: “The Padraig Pearse Cumann supports the introduction of a low interest rate government provided student loan scheme. We feel this is needed due to the major funding problems with third level education as expressed by Tom Boland, the Head of the Higher Education Authority this year. The students of DCU have made a democratic decision in this referendum mandating the SU to campaign for a fully free system of education. The Cumann fully respects that decision.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Viktorija Drozdova