Third-level fees must be reduced to reflect reality - Rose Conway-Walsh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation
and Science, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has challenged the Government for expecting
students and their families to pay full fees for partial access to campus and
Responding to statements made by the Minister for Education that third-level colleges will be able to charge the full €3,000 in fees to students even if campus access is severely restricted, Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“Third-level fees must be reduced to reflect reality. The Government fails to recognise the financial burden college fees place on students and their families. We are already paying the highest fees in the EU.
“It shows how out of touch they are if they think students and their families will be willing to pay the full amount if they only have partial access to campus and all the facilities that entails.
“Successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have underfunded universities for over a decade. Third-level institutions are given 50 percent less funding per student than in 2008. This has forced colleges to always charge extortionate fees.
“The government knows this. For the Minister for Education to hide behind third-level institutes and say they are responsible for setting their own fees is disingenuous. The Government set fees when they set the upper limit.
“Third-level institutions need support. They have been forced to find alternative sources of income from the private sector. Those sources of income have vanished overnight with the outbreak of Covid-19. International fees alone are estimated to go down by €181 million.
“The Ministers need to show leadership and address this issue as a matter of urgency and stop leaving students and families to shoulder the burden of funding our colleges.
“Sinn Féin’s recent online survey, ‘Telling the Real Story,’found that 70% of students said their personal employment opportunities or income have been impacted by Covid-19 and 56% of students said their household income had reduced.
“People are struggling, and the government should begin
working to reduce fees immediately to give students a break. We should move to
a real publicly-funded third-level education system and the complete removal of