Sinn Fein’s North Cork City Cllr Mick Nugent has slated the government’s decision to push ahead with plans to scrap maintenance grants for new postgraduate students in favour of a controversial government backed loans scheme.
Speaking after Bank of Ireland announced the details of the scheme yesterday, Cllr. Nugent said: “The scheme represent a serious and alarming step backwards for high level education in this country. The government are using the economic crisis to enforce a right-wing perspective on the funding of education and social infrastructure. Since the coalition came to power it has systemically attempted to remove the idea of education as a right from the Irish psyche.”
“The initiative lacks any real vision and will only really benefit students who are already on a sound financial footing. It penalizes those who are less well off and as such will go some way to creating an inequitable, elitist dynamic at the higher tier of education & research by restricting opportunity of access for those with limited financial capacity. I can’t see how this is conducive to building the knowledge-economy is so widely talked about in government circles.”
Cllr. Nugent went on by saying that he was worried that the move represent a move towards “americanizing” financial support options for third level education in Ireland. “We know that many graduates in the US spend half their working lives financially crippled by college loan repayments. The 10.8% interest rate which had been set for this scheme will put many Irish graduates under serious strain long into their careers. It is also a great deal for the banks. Sinn Fein is calling on Ruairi Quinn to reverse this disastrous decision.”