Mobilisation ahead of Dublin student protest

Dublin City University's Cody Byrne says he didn't need to incentivise students to protest against third levels fees

One Irish student union is taking a unique approach when it comes to encouraging its members to protest against third-level fees today.

The DCU SU has been running a competition across their social media platforms, in which students have the chance to win a pair of tickets to the college's Halloween ball - if they share a video informing students about the march.

A music festival has also been organised for students following the protest.

However, welfare officer Cody Byrne is insistent that the students don't need incentivising.

"This is something that will affect everyone, even beyond current students", he tells Newstalk. "Most of the engineering department in DCU has cancelled lectures today, or will be rescheduling, because students are attending the march. Everyone is behind us".

"It's €5,000 now in fees, but it won't stay at €5,000. In ten years, that figure could be €9,000. We're all going to known someone in the future attending college."

The Union of Students in Ireland expect up to 5,000 students to join their national demonstration march today to warn the government of the impact of income contingent loans on students.

The USI opposes the introduction of a student loan scheme - one of three options being considered by the government.

USI President Annie Hoey says publicly funded third level education is the better option: "In the 70s it was quite a big political decision to make second level education publically funded and accessible to anyone who wants it.

"So publically funded education is not pie in the sky, it is an option that is laid out in the report and it is a matter of political will whether the Government go down this particular route."

 

Byrne says that the proposal will also encourage emigration, quoting USI figures suggesting 80 - 90% of student nurses are considering emigrating upon graduation. SUSI, Ireland’s national awarding authority for all higher and further education grants, will also be threatened.

"As the public funding for fees decrease and fees rise, and the government, judging off previous models, will be making a loss on student loans, services like SUSI will disappear," he says.                                        

Funding to the wider third-level education sector has fallen from €1.4bn in 2007 to €860m this year.

Three solutions have been proposed in the Cassells report.

The first option involves retaining the annual €3,000 fee, with the state’s contribution of 64% of annual costs raised to 72%.

Secondly, switching to a publicly-funded model, abolishing the €3,000 fee and increasing the Government contribution to 80%. The amount paid by the State is far below the EU average of 79%.

The third option by Cassells, the “study now, pay later” loan model involving hiking annual fees to €4,000 to €5,000, has been heavily criticised by student leaders.