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Proposed Student Tax System will exacerbate Youth Crisis – Boylan

3 May, 2017 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has said that the study on an income-contingent loan scheme, essentially an tertiary education tax, presented to the Oireachtas Education and Skills Committee yesterday evening as part of a report on the ‘Future Funding of Higher Education’ will only serve to exacerbate the crisis for young people in this country if followed through.

MEP Boylan said:

“Yesterday, the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills had a hearing on the ‘Future Funding of Higher Education’ during which it heard findings from a study recommending an income-contingent loan scheme to finance third-level education. The study is partly penned by Professor Bruce Chapman, the architect of an income-contingent loan system in Australia.

“The idea that Ireland would wish to emulate the student loan system in Australia, which itself sought to emulate the student loan system in America, is utter madness. The loan system in Australia has not delivered for students, nor has it delivered for third-level institutions. It has only sought the further commodification of education by reducing public investment and increasing the burden on students.

“Only last year, the Australian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) conducted an analysis on the student loan system which showed that the government’s higher education policies would leave students worse off with them ending up paying considerably more for a university education.

“Indeed, it also stated that this tertiary education tax always carries the possibility that if universities are underfunded, fees could increase significantly to cover the cost of the underfunding thus leading to the complete emulation of the disastrous student loan crisis you have in America.

“The genesis of this policy is the desire to create ‘market citizens’ and allow third-level education to be subsumed by neoliberal economics. The result would be the commercialisation of third-level education with serious academic consequences, further exacerbation of the difficulties in education accessibility, and taxing students with vast swathes of debt. 

“The proposed policy which TDs and Senators heard yesterday was presented as an economic solution for funding third-level education, however, what it was really about is commercialising education and opening it up to marketisation, and finally allowing for privatisation.

“Investment in tertiary education is critical to Ireland’s economic and social future, but it should not be done through an additional tax on students, it should be funded through intelligent investment and progressive taxation.

“Despite how this proposal is dressed up, it is nothing more than an added tax for students in which they are making a payment for their education in is a system which turns degrees into priced commodities.” 

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