Holly Cairns TD, Social Democrats spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, has called on the Government to fund a reduction in third level registration fees in light of the emerging shift to online lectures for the upcoming term.

Holly said:

“I strongly support the Union of Students in Ireland’s call for a minimum €500 reduction in student college fees due to both the financial hardship caused by the pandemic and the move to blended learning by many third level institutions. This issue came up when I met with USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick, and I have been seeking a commitment on this from the Minister for Further and Higher Education.

“It is deeply disappointing that the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, has ruled out any reduction in the €3,000 registration fees at a time when many families have lost income and students have not been able to get seasonal or part-time jobs. With many institutions now confirming there will be an emphasis on off-campus, on-line learning due to Covid-19, it is hard not to see the justification for a reduction in fees.

“The reality is that education in Ireland stopped being free a long time ago. In some cases, fees, accommodation and living costs results in students who are living away from home having to pay over €12,000 annually. Not only is this a substantial burden on many households, it simply makes third level education inaccessible for many. In addition, I have been contacted by students who are having issues qualifying for SUSI funding.

“I have met with the Presidents of individual institutions and I have seen that they are doing all they can under the circumstances.

“The Minister for Further and Higher Education needs to get out in front of this and prevent further uncertainty and stress for students and families. There should be an immediate reduction in student fees, with the Government making up the shortfall rather than already underfunded colleges and universities having to cut budgets further.”

August 31, 2020

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