Gary Gannon TD, Social Democrats spokesperson on Education, and Holly Cairns TD, spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, have expressed concern at Minister Simon Harris’s statement that the cost of providing third level education will increase in the short-term as a result of COVID-19.

Both TDs are seeking clarity on the matter and an assurance that student fees will not rise during the lifetime of the Government.

Deputy Cairns said:

“This is obviously worrying for students and families. Although Minister Harris has said fees will not increase, recent history tells a different story. Since 2008, State funding for higher education has been drastically reduced while student fees have increased. We are seeking immediate clarification on the connection between Covid-19 and a rise in education costs.

“While new equipment and procedures will necessitate unforeseen expenditure, the underlying chronic underinvestment by the State in further and higher education is the much larger issue.”

Deputy Gannon said:

“The enhanced view of further education is very welcomed by Minister Harris. However, this should not be used as a tactic to water down or misdirect aspirations for underrepresented students in pursuing higher education. Third level costs, perceived or real, have always been a barrier for some students in continuing their education.

“We are looking for a commitment from the Minister to ensure that costs are not passed onto students, excluding many students from entering and to ensure students do not have to choose between further education or higher for economic reasons.”


Date: 16 July 2020

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