"Take your €20,000 debt, your degree, and get out”.
That, according to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), is the message being sent to Irish students by the Seanad’s failure today to support a motion calling for the rejection of an income-contingent student loan scheme.
USI President Michael Kerrigan went on to express his group’s disappointment at the failure of the Labour party’s private members motion to achieve the required support.
“Not all of our Senators were brave enough to make the ambitious decision and reject an income contingent loan scheme, despite the obvious and unfair burden placed on students and their families. The message is loud and clear to future students: take your €20,000 debt, your degree, and get out”.
Mr Kerrigan went on to welcome the fact that senators across party lines declared publicly funded higher education as something to strive for.
"It’s time our Government put their money where their mouth is and make the commitment to publicly invest now.
"Senators from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael asked for patience with the Joint Committee on Education and Skills to come to a conclusion and publish their recommendations on how third-level should be funded. Well, we say this - where are these recommendations as our colleges crumble before us?”.
Mr Kerrigan said the USI are calling on the Joint Committee on Education and Skills to make a decision on the future funding of third-level education and to reject any move to implement an income-contingent loan scheme but instead to publicly invest in third level education.
Reacting to the vote final year student, Cian Lalor, from IT Carlow revealed how he had been in debt since he was 17.
"I have always been in financial debt because of my loans. I couldn’t imagine being able to also afford loans of €20,000 for my degree”.