The discussion with regard to funding for third Level education is being countenanced yet again. This has been the sword of Damocles for the 374,000 students in college and university across Ireland almost every time the annual Budget is announced.
There is often fear and trepidation. Will fees increase? Will grants be cut? For those in third level, when it comes to that time of year, it is really a case of “no news is good news” as many are merely existing in college on a pittance.
Athlone Sinn Féin is vehemently against the notion of any further cuts to 3rd level Ireland, words echoed this week by local election candidate Padraig Hegarty.
“Young people have borne the brunt of excessive austerity measures for far too long and cuts to funding will only further the impediments to any reasonable quality of life. The cost of third level education has grown exponentially since 2007. It was around this time that Labour Party Education Spokesman, Ruairi Quinn, boldly signed a pledge to ensure that education costs would not rise, this pledge was signed very close to the General Election and no sooner had the election concluded, measures were put in place to increase the cost of access to third level education by over a staggering 300 percent.
“Many students in Athlone and beyond are heavily reliant on grants and whatever other subsistence they can garner at weekends. Most can barely survive as it is, we are still seeing many students heavily reliant on Foodbank style set-ups and now the notion of being lumbered with more fees or stealth levies is on the horizon,” Padraig claimed.
Reinforcing his position the local election aspirant noted the need to harness education allowing students to dream of a brighter future.
“Education is an investment and to train people to get up the professional ladders is hugely beneficial for the economy. Higher trained and skilled workers normally end up in higher paid roles, the higher paid roles amass revenue for the exchequer from being within a higher tax bracket. In these uncertain times, we need to harness education to give people a better tomorrow.
“To cut education funding or increase fees will only serve to disincentivise people from pursuing higher levels of education. Sinn Féin stand with the USI and those impacted by the constant cuts in education, the old adage goes as ‘knowledge is power’, maybe there is an appetite to stifle this, and after all, an informed electorate will challenge the status quo,” Padraig concluded.