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Doherty rejects third level fees proposal

11 January, 2011 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Pearse Doherty has rejected the government’s proposal to reintroduce third level fees and called on Fine Gael and Labour to do the same.

The call comes as the controversial and long awaited Hunt Report into third level funding is published. The report contains a proposal for upfront tuition fees with a loan system. The measures will have to be implemented or rejected by the next government.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The proposal for a return to third level tuition fees with a loan system is regressive and should be rejected outright. The document contains little by way of how it is to be implemented nor does it contain any reference to the fact that students are already contributing to the cost of their education through the exorbitant registration fee which will be increased to €2,000 this September.

“The reality is that introducing this scheme will inevitably lead to a decline in uptake of third level course by those from lower to middle income households and is not only economically wrong but also socially wrong.

“In order to build the knowledge economy and to equip future workers and innovators with the skills, knowledge and expertise that are needed to drag this country out of recession and back on the road to recovery, we need to invest in and incentivise participation in third level education. Charging fees and placing a millstone around the neck of future graduates in the form of student loans is not the way to do this.

“In our pre-budget submission we in Sinn Féin showed that by eliminating wasteful spending, reforming the taxation system to ensure that the wealthiest contribute more, investing in stimulus and cutting the exorbitant wages of those at the top of the public sector, we can get this economy back on track without penalising families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

“This proposal will make third level education a no-go area for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It will be up to the next government to implement or reject this strategy and I would appeal the other opposition parties to make a commitment to reject this proposal if elected to Government in the upcoming election.” ENDS

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