Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Students need to be supported if we are to have a knowledge economy

16 November, 2011

The Sinn Féin team in the Seanad has committed their support to the “Stop Fees, Save the Grant” march which is taking place today, organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Speaking in the Seanad, Sinn Féin Seanad Group Leader and Education spokesperson David Cullinane stated:

“I commend the students of Ireland, and the USI for taking to the streets and standing up to the government and its regressive policies. We very much support their view that Education is a right, and not a privilege.

“The Government is showing scant regard for the difficulties facing many students in accessing Third Level education, and the Labour Party in particular needs to consider very carefully the promises, and categorical commitments it made to students in advance of the election.

“The USI are of the view that being able to obtain a quality education is a vital prerequisite to kick-starting Ireland's economic recovery. It does not appear to me that the Government have taken this into account, as they continue to follow the same short sighted policies as their predecessors. If we do not put adequate resources into Education, standards will begin to slide, and it will become ever more difficult to attract investment and create employment.

“Students and their families are being put to the pin of their collar; they are under serious pressure with registration fees, and bank loans to support their children’s tuition. If registration fees go up again, who knows how many students will be forced out of college and on to the dole?”

The Waterford Senator added:

“We also support the demands of USI in opposing the changes in the Non-adjacent Grant, which has taken many students out of the scheme and made it very difficult for them to attend third-level, and we very much oppose the government’s short sighted proposals to reduce funding for postgraduate students.

“It's astonishing to hear government representatives talk about the knowledge economy considering they may well confine third level education to a limited group, and postgraduate study, which will be essential in creating employment in research and innovation, to an even more limited group.

“We will continue to support students all over the country in fighting for their education rights, will continue to highlight the fact there is an alternative, as we have highlighted in yesterday’s pre-budget submission.” ENDS

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