10,000 students protest ‘study now pay later’ loans

More than 10,000 students have marched on the Taoiseach’s office over the introduction of college loans.

Thousands of students marched through Dublin City yesterday towards the Department of the Taoiseach protesting against any increase in fees.

The students were protesting about the ‘study now pay later’ loans the Government could introduce to cover the €600m needed annually for our third-level sector.

“Loans were brought in in the UK at £1,000 and they’re now over £9,000. Do you think our Government will bring in loans for €5,000 and leave them at that? They’ll keep increasing them, increasing them, increasing them until they are an insurmountable burden around your necks,” said Annie Hoey, president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

“The Government is trying to wrap this up in a nice little package, ‘study now pay later.’ I’m not buying a flatscreen TV that I’ll pay off over a couple of months,” she added.

Mother-of-two and law student at Trinity College Dublin, Carly Bailey, 36, who lost her family home in the crash, also spoke at the march yesterday.

“I went to an under-resourced school — not enough teachers. I couldn’t even study history and geography at Leaving Cert. No one in my family went to college or university. I am the first. I don’t want to be the last,” said Carly from Cavan.

“I left school and I didn’t get a place at college and I thought it was because I was stupid. I got into work. I got passed over for promotions, but I didn’t care. I settled down. I had two babies. I got married. I built a house. We were OK.

“Yeah, but then 2008 happened. The economic crash, we lost our jobs, we couldn’t get anything sustainable enough to pay our debts on time and we fell into arrears on our mortgage and I lost my home,” she said.

Students are angry at the rising cost of ‘study now, pay later’ loans which they say will be an insurmountable burden on students.

“It nearly broke us but we got up and we came to college because we knew we needed to get an education. I’m very privileged that my kids are now able to see me and my husband in college.

“They’re able to see it as normal and Brian [her husband] graduates from IT Tallaght next Friday and I couldn’t be prouder because I know what we’ve sacrificed and given up to be there and I’m not the only one.

“The Government has a choice to make, decisions that will affect my future, your future, our children’s future. I’m terrified and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to finish my degree, I’m only in second year [if loans are introduced],” added Carly.

The students marched in favour of publicly funded education to meet the shortfall in funding for the third-level sector.

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