Third-level fees must be reduced to reflect reality - Rose Conway-Walsh TD
Sinn Fein spokesperson for Further and Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh TD has challenged the government for expecting students and their families to pay full fees for partial access to campus and facilities.
Responding to statements made by the Minister for Education, Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“The Government is failing to recognise the financial burden college fees place on students and their families. Students here are already paying the highest fees in the EU.
"Expecting students and their families to pay third-level fees in full whilst only having partial access to the campus and all the facilities that entails is outrageous, and it shows just how out of touch this Government is.
“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. It is disingenuous for the Minister for Education to hide behind third-level institutes and say they are responsible for setting their own fees. 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 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. International fees alone are estimated to go down by €181m.
“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 fees.
"We should move to a real publicly-funded third-level education system and the complete removal of fees.”