14 December 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Anti Austerity Alliance Cork City Cllr Mick Barry this morning said that the introduction of a loans scheme for third level students in Ireland would put hundreds of thousands of people into financial difficulty and create a generation living in the shadow of debt.
His comments came after the Irish Times this morning published the findings of a Government-commissioned report which recommends the introduction of a national third level student loans scheme.
The report “Funding Irish Higher Education: A Virtuous Circle of Investment, Quality and Verification” does not propose a set rate but explores a scenario which would involve a graduate paying back loans at a rate of 25 euro per week for fifteen years.
Cllr Barry said: “Twenty five euro a week for fifteen years is just another way of saying more than 100 euro a month for fifteen years or 1300 euro a year for fifteen years. These are serious sums of money which would put hundreds of thousands of people into financial difficulty and create a generation living in the shadow of debt.”
Cllr Barry said that if the next Government attempts to introduce a student loans scheme they could face a protest movement from young people of a size that is usually seen only once in a generation.
The report also recommends that a student loans scheme would apply to undergraduate tuition fees, part time tuition fees, taught post graduate tuition and private sector tuition and that loans should be repaid when the graduate’s income reaches a minimum level. The report estimates that the scheme could raise a billion euro for the third level sector.
Cllr Barry said that increased funding for the third level education sector should be secured by the introduction of a steeply progressive taxation system in the state.
He said that the introduction of a financial transactions tax of 0.1% on transactions of bonds and shares and of 0.01% on transactions of derivatives could raise a billion euro a year and that some of this income could be used to increase funding for Ireland’s third level sector.