Taoiseach hints at increase in student fees

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has backed comments made by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn that third-level fees need to increase.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has backed comments made by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn that third-level fees need to increase.

Student fees, which currently stand at €2,000, are set to rise to around €3,000.

Speaking in Cork earlier today, the Taoiseach said that a strong and vibrant third-level sector does not come cheap and has to be paid for.

"We need to be right up there, even further up where we are," he said.

"It’s part of my own philosophy that we prove by 2016 we're the best country in the world in which to do business and a really strong and vibrant third-level system is fundamental to that, and it's got to be paid for."

The Union of Students in Ireland said that any hike in fees will not lead to improved services for college students.

The group's President Gary Redmond said that this additional money is simply making up for cuts made to grants given by the Government to colleges, and therefore it is a lose-lose situation.

"Not a single additional cent of money has gone into the universities or colleges," he said.

"The reality is all the Government are doing are transferring the burden on to families that are already struggling

"This year, when the €250 increase was announced, on top of that increase the Government announced a 2% cut in funding to universities and colleges, and what that will result in from September is students and families paying more, but we get a reduction in frontline services."

Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Brendan Smith accused Minister Quinn of displaying a lack of respect for students.

"It is less than a year since Ruairí Quinn signed a pledge to students promising that he would not allow any increases in third level registration fees," he saidl.

"This, he said, was a ‘red line issue’ for the Labour Party. He was quick to break this promise. Far from reversing the €500 increase in the student contribution fee last year, he announced a further €250 increase in December’s budget.

"It now seems that this initial betrayal was not enough for Minister Quinn. He has now casually revealed that he will hit students with further increases in the student contribution fee every year over the next four years. Students and their families are facing a 50% increase in the charge in the year ahead.

"It’s time for Minister Quinn to be honest with students about his plans for increasing the cost of third-level education. Students and their families need to budget and prepare for college, and right now it is impossible for them to do so."

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