Debt burden fears for third level students
As fears grow that third level students could be faced with debts of up to 25,000 euro if a proposed new loans scheme is introduced, Minister for Education, Mary Coughlan insisted it was not her intention to leave students with an "unmanageable" financial burden when they graduated.
But she maintained students should make an "equitable contribution" to the overall cost of the significant economic advantage they gain from higher education.
Addressing the launch of the 20 year National Strategy for Higher Education, the Tanaiste revealed that over the period of the plan it was intended that a higher student contribution to the cost of higher education would be made.
Yesterday, Letterkenny I.T. President, Paul Hannigan admitted: "To all intents and purposes, third level fees are back."
He told the ‘Democrat' that the 1,500 euro registration charge already imposed financial difficulties for students and their families and the fees would impact on those who could least afford them.
Due to examinations there was nobody available from the college's Students Union office to comment on the proposed loans scheme and reintroduction of fees now under consideration by the Department of Education.
The Hunt Report, launched in Dublin on Tuesday, highlighted the argument for individual contributions from students. It proposed a combination of means-tested grants and student fees, along with a system of deferred repayment of student loans.
Commented Minister Coughlan: "I want to make it clear that it is not my intention that students should be left with an unmanageable debt burden upon graduation; rather, students should make an equitable contribution to the overall cost of the significant economic advantage they gain from higher education."
Implementation of the Strategy will also see, for the first time, all students, whether full-time or part-time, on-campus or off-campus, be equally supported by the funding model used to allocate resources to and within institutions. "This reflects the changing way in which students now engage with third level education and allows for greater flexibility and encourages lifelong learning. It is a proposal that will be particularly welcomed by part-time students," the Tanaiste insisted.