THE Students’ Union at University College Cork (UCC) has labelled the government decision not to reduce student contribution fees as “deeply unjust”.
Calls were made in recent weeks for the €3,000 registration fee to be reduced in light of Covid-19 restrictions which could see on-campus time limited.
Students’ unions across Ireland as well as opposition TDs have been calling on Education Minister Norma Foley to reduce third-level fees for students whose courses will now be mainly online or through blended learning as a result of the pandemic.
Speaking to The Echo, Jamie Fraser, welfare officer for the UCC SU, said the failure to reduce fees is “deeply unjust”.
“Ireland has the highest university fees in Europe post-Brexit,” he explained.
“A pandemic should not provide the impetus for tackling an already overarching and debilitating system - this should have been worked on already.
“In addition to this, we have seen the proliferation of accommodation prices in a dysfunctional private rental sector, a greater than 40% decline in Higher Education funding since 2008, and a stagnation of the SUSI grant since 2012,” he added. “Students who are homeless, starving, and penniless present on a daily basis.
“Students are not cash cows; they live, breathe, cry, laugh, and contribute to the economy.
“A lack of compassion by government to not lower the €3,000 fee when students are suffering now more than ever is indicative of a system that is deeply unjust.”
Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, this week admitted that he would like to see the registration fee fall, but added that he could not promise any such reduction in the upcoming budget.
“I do think the registration fee in Ireland is too high and it is something that I would like to see addressed, obviously that depends on a whole variety of issues but I am committed to working on it,” said Mr Harris.
The Minister encouraged students to apply for the SUSI grant, and explained that the fees can be paid in installments.