Students' union president from Wexford hits out at loan scheme
IT Carlow Students' Union President Lorna Fitzpatrick, from Wexford town, has criticised the loan scheme option in the Cassells Report and said it will disable social mobility and keep the poorest people in Ireland poor.
The Cassells Report suggested three possible solutions to tackling the third level education funding crisis in Ireland:
The first was publicly-fully-funded education (paid for by the exchequer); the second was increased state funding to make up for the short-fallings in third level education and keeping the registration fee of €3,000 and the third was a state loan scheme, similar to loan schemes in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Fitzpatrick, IT Carlow SU President, and the Union of Students in Ireland both said the publicly-fully-funded suggestion to the funding crisis in the Cassells report was by far the best because it will keep equality and social mobility on a level playing field.
Irish third level fees are the second highest in Europe, after the UK. Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland all offer free education. The registration fee in France is €180 - €2,820 cheaper than the Irish registration fee.
'I am delighted to see that the Cassells report has outlined a state-funded model for third level education as an option,' said Fitzgerald.
'USI has long been campaigning for such a model to be introduced and it is great to see this report shows that we have been campaigning for a realistic and possible system.
'Free education is possible and I really want to focus on that. Other European countries have this model so it can be done, it's not just a nice idea - it is a possible reality. We here in Ireland require the political will to make it happen.
'The last thing I will support is for any student to be saddled with debt when leaving college and starting out in their life,' she said.
Campus Life did research into the average annual cost of college and they found that it was €11,000 for people living away from home and €6,000 for people living at home, which means college courses will cost between €22,000 and €66,000 - if you're doing something like medicine.
Fitzpatrick said taking on a loan of €22,000 to €66,000 will deter young people from applying to college and stressed that we need to look at countries that have loan schemes and realise that they simply don't work.