The Social Democrats are opposed to the position stated by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin TD that he would retain the student contribution fee of €3,000 a year.

This means effectively for students that there is no difference between the two largest parties in terms of long-term affordability of third-level education.

Social Democrats Galway East Councillor Owen Hanley, himself a recent graduate, stated:

“Ireland is at the bottom of the class in Europe when it comes to college fees for undergraduate students. Our students are charged extortionate fees while their counterparts charge either no fees at all or less than €1,000 per year. Any policy that does not tackle this from the outset is merely tinkering at the edges.”

Hanley went on to strongly condemn the suggestion by Micheal Martin towards the introduction of a student loan scheme for third-level finances.

“Loan schemes have only further engrained socio-economic disadvantages in higher education when they have been introduced before. As a student I, and thousands of others, marched with Union of Students in Ireland against such a scheme when floated by Fine Gael and would do so again.”

Cllr Hanley continued: “All of this ignores the chronic underfunding of our third-level system in Ireland. Successive governments have ignored this for too long, ignored the effect of the housing crisis on students, ignored the mental health and well-being of our students. We need a government that proudly invests in our colleges and students because they realise our future is secure in their hands.”

ENDS

18th July 2019