The price of higher education is too high and needs to be lowered, that is the opinion of NUIG Students’ Union president Pádraic Toomey.
His comments come after Minister of Education Norma Foley said third-level colleges will be able to charge the full €3,000 in fees to their students even if they severely restrict access to campus and force them to stay at home because of the implementation of social distancing.
Mr Toomey said while this year has exacerbated the financial struggles that students face, it was vital to reduce Irish third level fees permanently which are the highest in the EU.
He said; “The price of higher education is too high. Education isn’t a commodity and can’t be seen to be. We need value for education and we need to invest in young people.
“Ireland has the highest [third level education] fees in Europe. But we have to remember that fees are not the only cost for students. Accommodation is a huge cost for students. If we look at The Westwood [Student Accommodation], the cheapest room is €7,560.
“The €3,000 fees need to be reduced so everyone can have a chance to [attend higher level education] so we are not campaigning for a reduction of fees as a reaction to [Covid-19 restrictions] this year; we want fees to be reduced and continue to go down for the years ahead.”
Commenting on the matter, a NUI Galway spokesperson said the setting of fees was a matter of public policy and not for the university.
She said; “The setting of tuition fees is a matter of public policy and not a matter for any one university. The HEA’s website (https://hea.ie/funding-governance-performance/funding/student-finance/course-fees/ ) provides details on the student contribution charge and also on the SUSI grant and other student supports.
“In that context, NUI Galway strongly supports and advocates for significantly increased investment in SUSI, in financial assistance and increased access to education for all. The university has also added to and extended our provision for financial assistance, including a Covid-19 fund to support students who are most in need in our community.
“We are very grateful to students for their patience as we continue to plan in uncertain times.”