There are renewed calls for Student Contribution Fees to be abolished, as people struggle with costs.
It comes as the Government is due to provide more funding for third-level education.
However, annual fees of up to €3,000 will not be cut immediately.
Most colleges charge an annual student contribution, formerly called the Student Services Charge.
Also known as a Registration Fee, it covers student services and examinations.
The amount of the contribution varies from one institution to another - but the maximum rate for the 2022-2023 academic year is €3,000.
President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Clare Austick, told The Pat Kenny Show not abolishing the charge is disappointing.
"From the articles that I would have read in terms of this new proposal from the higher education sector, we cannot forget the enormous barrier - which is the cost that students have to face when accessing third-level education.
"It's not just the Student Contribution Charge: it's the accommodation, it's the rents, it's the cost of living.
"Those students who don't get the SUSI grant have to work part-time jobs and are really, really struggling.
"So when we really want to tackle access to education and make it equitable, we certainly have to tackle it at the core - and that's the Student Contribution Charge."
Asked if SUSI parameters should be changed to give more people access to it, she says it should reflect the cost of living.
"We would certainly want the Student Contribution Charge... reduced with a view to completely funding and publicly funding higher education.
"It should be done alongside one another in terms of reforming the SUSI grant - making sure that it accurately reflects the cost of living.
"But it has to also accompany the complete abolishment of the Student Contribution Charge."
She says this should be done in conjunction with other changes.
"We cannot just focus on one element: it has to be a holistic approach when we look at core funding for higher education institutions, student/staff ratio, refurbishment of buildings, reducing the student contribution charge, increasing the SUSI grant, and alleviating the stress of the extortionate rent that students have to pay as well".
The issue of third-level fees and investment has been ongoing since 2016.
A report warned the then-government it would need an additional €600m a year by 2021 to fund higher education - rising to €1bn extra a year by 2030.
The Cassells Report said the additional investment was needed due to a growing younger population, and to reduce student/staff ratios in lecture halls.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is bringing a memo to Cabinet, which would seek approval from Government to increase funding to help families with the cost of college - as well as grant reforms to allow part-time students access funding.
Additional reporting: Caoimhseach Connolly