Irish students are paying the second highest fees in Europe behind the UK.
However, only 60 per cent of Irish students are actually paying full fees as almost half were aided by the grant system in 2015/16, according to a report recently published by the European Commission.
The report compares the cost of fees and the level of financial aid available to students across 42 different education systems and concentrates mainly on undergraduate or ‘first cycle’ courses.
USI President Michael Kerrigan said that “although this is a new report, this is something we have known for over six years. Ireland has, for some time, had the second highest fees in Europe and will soon have the highest third level fees in the EU.”
The report found that students in the UK have to contribute the most to third level institutions at €10,000 a year with Ireland following at €3,000 a year.
However, there is no grant system in the UK with students depending entirely on loan schemes to complete their studies.
Over 11 education systems in the EU don’t require their students to pay any fees at all. These include institutions in Germany, Greece, Croatia, Denmark and Finland.
A total of 17 European countries also have tax relief or social benefits to help students and their families with the cost of college. This includes continuing to pay child or family benefits until the age of 24 or 25 for children in full time education.
The countries that allow tax relief and child benefits for all include France, Switzerland, Portugal and the Czech Republic.
Despite a student loan scheme being ruled out in the Budget 2018, the Cassell’s report stated that the funding model for third level education in Ireland is unsustainable.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has left the idea of an Australian or Dutch style loan scheme open after completely ruling out a UK or US style scheme which leaves graduates with large debts after obtaining their degrees.