Once again students from every college around the country will be taking to the streets to march to Leinster House on Wednesday, 4th October in order to stop the government from introducing a student loan scheme. We believe that third level education is in real crisis and #EducationIsInTheRed and I believe strong that it should be publicly funded. So the question you may ask is why are we marching?
On 12th July 2016, the Cassells Report was published and it outlined three funding options to be considered by the government for the future of Higher Education. The options were; predominately state-funded, continuing student fees or income contingent loans. At the moment the current fees are €3,000 but the government aren’t increasing funding in third level education with 10 out of 14 Institutes of Technology in serious financial difficulty. We’re against income contingent loans because we believe this would place the country and students in serious debt.
The government is looking to increase fees to €5,000 a year and there will be no SUSI grant to cover it as this will be completely scrapped in favour of student loans.
This means for the over 46% of DIT students relying on the grant may not be able to finish their course. While for those looking to start college, they could end up having to graduate with over €20,000 in debt. This model has been tried in the US, UK, and Australia and it has been shown that the majority of the loans are unpaid. It is estimated in Ireland that it would cost the State €13 million a year from non-payment of the loans.
We marched on 19th October last year in hope that the Government and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills would make a historic long-term decision and invest in the publicly-funded third level education but this decision has been delayed and we’re marching again on the 4th October to make sure the government do not introduce a loan scheme.
However, some students think we’re asking for free education but this is absolutely not the case. The report provides for predominately state-funded as we ask for €1.26 billion to be invested in higher education through general taxation over the next decade.
While also proposing that the government further subsidise higher education institutions by a minimum of €17.5m in order to deliver a reduction in the Student Contribution Charge of at least €250. This means going to college will not be completely free but less costly. In addition, we further ask the government to reinvest in SUSI because it doesn’t adequately support students while the cost of living keeps increasing.
Next Wednesday 4th October we ask all DIT students to come out and march. All Southside students will be meet outside Aungier St at 11am, while Northside students will be meet outside Bolton St at 11.15am. We’ll be wearing all black and with our trolleys, flags and banners we will make our voices heard that we say NO to any proposed loan scheme.