Updated: 13/02/16 : 06:31:12
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Fine Gael plan to make students pay off college fee debt

Irish third-level education is facing a major funding crisis. Public funding has been cut extensively since the beginning of the economic crisis, while the student body is expected to have grown by approximately 30% by 2028.

Nigel Gallagher, People Before Profit candidate for Sligo / Leitrim / South Donegal / West Cavan says:

“It has been the policy of the government to shift the cost of third-level education on to students themselves. Ruairi Quinn’s infamous pledge not to increase the student contribution was quickly scuttled after the formation of the coalition government in 2011. The registration charge has been gradually raised to €3000 a year.

“Fine Gael plans to introduce a student loan system if re-elected. Wherever third-level loans have been introduced, the result has been to saddle students with a pile of debt upon completion of their degree. The average student in the United States will graduate with over $25,000 in debt. There has been speculation about the possibility of raising fees here to as high as €16,000.

“Even closer to home, the UK’s student loan system exists to finance the most expensive public university fees in the world. Students in Britain are charged £9,000 annually to attend a public university, even greater than the average cost in the United States. Fine Gael’s proposals draw most heavily on the Australian loans system – Australia has among the highest third-level education costs in the world.

“It is obvious – student loans mean higher fees. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael/Labour have implemented years of successive budgets which have attacked students and young people. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to emigrate, including many young people and graduates. Now Fine Gael want students to leave college with a mountain of debt.

“People Before Profit wants the abolition of all university fees. We believe that education is a right, not a privilege.

“We should end the attack on education and instead tax those who can afford to pay – the corporations and the rich”.