Reilly challenges education Minister on third level fees
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on the Minister for Education to honour his commitment to students and families to not reintroduce third level fees.
Speaking during an adjournment debate in the Seanad, Senator Reilly challenged the Minister for Education to rule out a return to student fees.
Senator Reilly said:
“Today 58,795 students across the State are sitting down to their Leaving Certificate and Leaving Cert Applied Exams.
“Prior to the election, the Minister told students that he would oppose and campaign against extra charges for students.
“Last week the Minister refused to rule out the reintroduction of college fees
“Today I am calling on the Minister to honour the commitment he made to thousands of students and families across the country, so that those starting their exams today can be secure in their future.
“The reintroduction of fees will coincide with huge financial problems for families and prospective graduates.
“These are the families who are facing the Universal Social Charge, the new levy on their private pensions, reduced social welfare and graduates who have already borne the brunt of decreases in their student grants. Indeed many students are unable to access student grants because they live on a farm.
“We need a well-educated and skilled workforce if we are to deliver economic growth.
“Introduction of fees, for many young people, will offer only a choice between hardship in education, the prospect of the dole or emigration. That is not a choice to put before our young people. And for many the choice will be simple and it will be us who will bear the cost.
“What is needed now is appropriate use of the resources we can afford to devote to third level: appropriate levels of pay, less duplication across institutions, and a concentration on under-grad provision in the subject areas with a chance of feeding into economic development.
“Let us not take a step backwards. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us not reintroduce third levels fees
“Instead now is the time to invest in our education system and in our people.
“I am also calling on the Minister to provide to the Houses and to the public the terms of reference for the new report commissioned by the Minister for Education.”