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Government intention to hike up registration fees underhand and unfair

6 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has today slammed the government for its intention to substantially increase third level registration fees. The Donegal Senator has described the cabinet’s decision as “an underhand effort to reintroduce third level fees via the back door.”


The Donegal Senator said:


“Those on low and middle incomes are already struggling to meet increased food and fuel prices. The additional costs of putting a young person through third level are already challenging for ordinary families yet in the current economic climate getting young people into college is now more than ever critical for the states economic viability. We need an educated and skilled workforce, that’s the bottom line.


“Ireland’s educational expenditure is one of the lowest in Europe – it is below OECD average as a percentage of GDP. Sinn Féin has long argued for investment in education should be based on a percentage of 6 per cent of GDP. Access to education is a right not a privilege.


“The abolition of fees in the mid 1990s was a progressive move, but has been fundamentally undermined by successive Fianna Fáil led governments who have failed to invest the economic boom into the country’s future. Now as we now face into fiscal uncertainty the government’s cash cow approach to the public purse over the last ten years is becoming acutely evident.


“With third level registration fees costing up to €980 and a lack of student supports such as childcare and accommodation supplements students and their families already shoulder a considerable financial burden. Mature students have in most instances to pay full fees when they seek to up or re-skill.


“Education is the cornerstone of this country’s economic future. We face uncertain times and traditional employment sectors such as manufacturing and construction are in steady decline. Government regularly talks up the need for a knowledge economy but in real terms has never seriously invested in nor planned for it. This needs to change however government’s latest decision on registration fees does not indicate it is ready to make such a leap.” ENDS

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