AS A college student, I was infuriated by Minister O’Keefe’s recent proposal to re-introduce college fees. With a €9.4 billion shortfall so far this year in the government’s income, I’d say the odds are in favour of them re-introducing third level fees next year.
By Ann Katrin Orr, Socialist Youth University of Limerick
I belong to the 68% of students who have to work part-time and to the 71% of students who struggle to make ends meet. Like many, I still rely on financial support from my parents. The idea that students would be able to afford annual fees of between €4000 and €12000 on top of rent, bills and book costs, is ridiculous. Yet the indications are that the government is serious about fees.
Talk of fees “only for the rich” should be seen for what it is – a red herring, and an attempt to get fees in through the back door. Their own figures (when they got them right the second time around) show that the income generated by “fees only for the rich” would be insignificant. This indicates that, once introduced, fees would soon be placed on all students.
Whether in the form of a fee to be paid upfront or a loan system, charging people for education would have serious negative results: debt, less time for study due to longer hours at work and less working class young people being able to attend college. It would also further marketise education, turning it into a commodity and leading to more money being spent by universities on wasteful advertising.
As well as fighting fees, we must also fight for decent funding of education. This money should come from central government through taxing the rich elite who this very government has sheltered from the burden of taxation.
Students need to organise across the country to defeat fees. We need to reach out to school students, parents, staff and other workers as this issue affects all of us. Only an active movement involving these groups can force the government to back down.