By Imasha Costa, Editor-In-Chief
As a new funding package is due to be published in the month of January, the Government is considering the possibility of the reduction of the 3000 euro student contribution charge that is made by every Irish national student for third level education.
The new funding package is also considering a much larger expansion in student grants which would allow more families to be entitled to free fees and maintenance grants.
With Ireland becoming the country that charges the highest fees for third level after the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, this lean towards the plan is partly due to the report about the future funding of third level that is conducted by the European Commission.
However, half, and under, undergraduate students do not pay the student contribution charges as they are entitled to the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grants. This plan to review the contribution fee also includes reviewing the SUSI scheme, and the possibility of lowering the threshold for income to allow more accessibility to students.
With the rise of living costs that have jumped drastically, students usually end up paying nearly 14000 euros a year for rent, fees, etc.
Official figures show that it would cost nearly 80 million euros to cut the contribution fee by 1000 euros. However, the cost of abolishing the whole charge together would cost nearly 245 million euros for the government.
Ireland saw students take matters into their own hand in the month of November 2021, when the USI organised a nationwide campaign ‘F*CK THE FEES’, where protesters were seen chanting ‘Education is a right, this is why we have to fight.’
The USI had called initially for a 1000 euro reduction in the student contribution fee for Budget 2022, but this was not included.
According to the USI’s website on the campaign, ‘students are suffering in poverty and have to choose between food or heating.
‘We’re angry about the cost of student housing, which continues to put higher education beyond the means of many in the country. Meanwhile, property developers repurpose designated student rooms as fancy apartments for the wealthy.
‘We’re angry about the registration fees being the highest in the EU while the government claims there are “free fees”.’
The government, in political awareness, is trying to encourage young voters, and hopes that these considerations, which could possibly allow for the changing of the student contribution fees, will raise the chance of young voters voting for the current government instead of Sinn Féin.
Photo credits: Méabh Lonergan