Fianna Fail have retracted their proposal of a student loan scheme from their election manifesto, according to DCU Students’ Union President, Kim Sweeney.
Following major opposition from Irish students, Fianna Fail has sent an open letter to Student Unions’ around Ireland last Friday stating, “Fianna Fail will now no longer include the proposal of the student loan programme in our election manifesto.”
Sweeney said that it would have been “an awful decision to go ahead with the loan scheme when Fianna Fail saw the response from Irish Students. Even a lot of their own candidates were opposing it.”
She noted that you cannot guarantee what people promise before a general election and used the example of Labour before the last general election promising no increase in registration fees that have actually doubled since their time in government.
Under Fianna Fail’s proposal all students would pay €5,000 per year of college. They would have the option to pay this back over a number of years, once working.
This would be repaid in ratio to income with a minimum repayment rate of 2.75 per cent on salaries of €30,000 and capped at a rate of 5 per cent on salaries of €75,000.
In addition to this there would be a maintenance loan of up to €10,000 available also for students.
DCU’s Ógra Fianna Fail had said about the proposal that “our income contingent loan proposals offers the fairest way for students to enter third level, regardless of their family’s income while not facing unaffordable loan repayments after graduation.”
Fine Gael have also proposed in their general election manifesto a student loan scheme. Like Fianna Fail’s proposal, Fine Gaels will also be based on an income-contingent plan.
Fine Gael back this plan because they believe it means students can enter college straight away without having to pay up front fees.
Kevin O’ Donoghue of the USI says that the introduction of a student loan system is unreasonable and would deter students from entering university.
He notes that Ireland has the second highest rate of college fees in Europe and this would represent a €7500 increase in fees.