2 May 2017
By Elaine Murphy
- Committee should oppose loan scheme – Education must remain a right not a privilege
- Loan scheme would act a deterrent to “working class” young people attending 3rd Level
Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry has this morning hit out at a proposed student loan scheme which would see students repay university loans well into their 40s.
He said the proposal amounted to a return of full fees ‘through the back door’.
He said that it seemed clear that Education Minister has already decided that a loan system should be introduced, and that the Oireachtas Committee on Education should push back against his agenda when debating the options raised in the Cassell’s report. He called for the Committee to demand further investment in 3rd level education to ensure universal access for all.
Speaking earlier today, Mick Barry TD said “The introduction of any student loans scheme amounts to the re-introduction of fees. It would be a regressive step which would effectively remove education as a right open to all.
“Over the last number of years we have seen huge increases in fees through almost yearly increases in the Registration charge. The loan scheme would be full fees being re-introduced through the back-door.
“It is obvious that Education Minister Richard Bruton and the government have already decided on their preference flowing from the Cassell’s Report, despite his protestations. The Cassell’s Report outlined three different options, one of them being a loan scheme which Fine Gael want.
“The option which we prefer and think that the Committee which will discuss this should opt for is maintaining access to education paid for through progressive general taxation. Furthermore we argue for a scheme of living grants and special measures from Minister Coveney’s Department on the question of affordable student accommodation which is another dimension to the housing and accommodation crisis in this state.
“The Committee should back this option, but also demand further increases in state investment into 3rd level. Any loan scheme would act as a major deterrent to young people from working class backgrounds attending 3rd level. Why would someone choose to be burdened with huge debt when they are likely to emerge into an economy based on low-paying jobs, even for graduates?
“Fianna Fail need to be put under immense pressure to reject any re-introduction of fees through the back door.
“These proposals should elicit a response from students across the country. There are now more students in this country than at any time before. A new student movement could put massive pressure on the government, and Fianna Fail in particular, to drop this plan and could force the issue of scrapping the registration fee alongside real, substantial investment in education onto the table.”