With the cost of third level education on the rise and students all over the country, along with the Union of Students in Ireland, taking to the streets and pleading with the government to introduce publicly funded education, it really doesn’t give me a lot of hope for the future of the country.
Third level education in Ireland is heading in a downward spiral. Third level fees in Ireland are currently the second highest in Europe and yet figures show that Irish workers are the most overqualified in Europe with one in every three one educational level above what their job is. How does this add up? If we are paying extortionate costs to attend third level institutes, then surely we should have jobs and wages that are fair reflection of the degrees we obtain.
The USI are calling on the government to introduce publicly funded education as recommended by the Cassell’s Report and I believe that this is the only thing that will save the third level system. If we want to continue to produce qualified graduates in a range of fields, then we need to consider how accessible the education system is. Financial and social status shouldn’t act as a barrier to third level education. Why should we deny successful and lucrative futures to people who simply can’t afford to pay the high price for fees and accommodation, yet don’t qualify for any grants?
There’s also whispers of a loan system coming into place, where students will avoid paying fees throughout their four years of college but will face having to repay the money when they graduate. Where is the logic on handing newly qualified graduate’s bills for €20,000 plus when they are fresh on the workforce starting off on low wages, paying for rent and travel costs? The government are ignoring the current problem in Ireland and they will promote a loan system so students think it’s the best option when really, they will be fooled into spending more money.
We need to look at countries like Germany and Sweden who offer free third level education, meaning equal opportunity for all citizens. The graduates who benefit from the free education system differ from Ireland’s because they leave third level education in a comfortable and safe financial position and can therefore contribute to the growing economy from a much earlier age. The graduates who benefit from the free education system differ from Ireland’s graduates because they leave third level education in a comfortable and safe financial position and can therefore contribute to the growing economy from a much earlier age. Not only are the students benefiting, but the rest of the country see the benefits as there is a larger, more educated workforce who can bring business and innovation into the country. With example of successful free education systems in Europe, how can the government continue to ignore the USI’s call for publicly funded education?
As a student coming to the end of their third level education I can only stress with you to support the USI and ensure the government sort this situation before it’s too late. Help the government ensure both our country’s future and our own. Publicly funded education is Ireland’s only choice.
Image Credit by Aaron Harper