THE president of DKIT’s Student Union has lashed out at the possibility of a return of third levels fees, after it was mooted that a flat fee of €3,000 may be introduced.
James Clarke says an increase in the registration fee to this amount would hit “the most vulnerable students hardest”.
“This is just a further barrier to third level education,” Mr Clarke told the Dundalk Democrat this week.
“Grants have already been cut by 5 per cent last year and a further 4 per cent this year. A further hike in fees would effectively see some students unable to return to college next year.”
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has denied this week that he has signalled that third level fees are on their way back.
“The government have spoken about creating a smart economy, yet any introduction of fees would hinder the development of gradudates.
“I have spoken to people and been sent email from students telling me how if fees were introduced they would be unable to return next year.
“Minister Quinn made a pledge before the election to the USI that he would attempt to decrease the registration fee and would not reintroduce fees.
“If he did so now it would be slap in the face to students, and the way he has been talking recently it feels as if he is trying to soften the blow regarding bringing back fees.”
Mr Clarke, from the Point Road in Dundalk, is in his second year as a President of DKIT and is currently on hiatus from a accounting and finance degree.
According to Mr Clarke the issues of fees is something that animating students at the moment.
The Minister’s approach to funding third level education seems to hinge on upcoming report from the Higher Education Authority, a report that is thought will highlight the unsustainable nature of the current funding model.
“Fees would hit the pocket of the students who can least afford it, and would put a further barrier to third level education,” concluded Mr Clarke.
College fees could be introduced as early as next year with the government required to make e3.6 billion in cuts in December’s budget with the projection for the next three years set to be announced later this year.