Thousands protest in capital over rising student fees

Over 10,000 students gathered in Dublin to protest the dangers of implementing a student loan system similar to the one that currently operates in the UK yesterday.

The protest which was organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) took place on Wednesday afternoon with student bodies from Galway, Limerick, Cork, Sligo, Carlow and all major Dublin colleges represented.

The protest which walked down O’ Connell street heard warning calls from student leaders about the proposed changes to the fee system.

The proposal if used by the government would see Ireland adapt a similar system to the much lamented UK fees system.

Students would have to pay upward of €20,000 back to the State once they reach a prescribed income threshold after graduation.

The scheme was touted as a possible solution by former Trade Union Secretary, Peter Cassells.

A report produced for the government earlier this year indicates that Mr Cassells proposal could be a possible solution to funding problems in Ireland’s third-level sector.

The protest was called to support one of the three recommendations set out in the report: a higher education system funded by general taxation and no student contribution fee.

The other two options outlined are an increase in State spending and the retention of the existing €3,000 student contribution charge or an income-contingent loan scheme.

USI have warned that a loan system could cause a two tiered education system divided into those that can afford education and those that will not be able to pay back these loans.

In an e-mail to all University of Limerick students, Union President, Sarah Dunphy, urged students to attend the protest. “This is our opportunity to get our voice heard!! We as young-adults, students, “The next voting generation” can’t let this opportunity slip through our hands! We can’t be the ones to blame for the introduction of this new 3rd level payment scheme that will take the accessibility of 3rd level education away.”

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