Panic prompts public meeting on college fees

The reintroduction of college fees has sparked “panic” among Galway students, according to GMIT Students’ Union president, Patrick Bonner.

Last month students were officially advised they may have to pay for their tuition from next year. Third-level colleges were asked by the Higher Education Authority to inform the new intake of students about a possible Government decision of some form with fees next year.

Patrick Bonner said that this letter caused panic in parents and students alike. “When Ministers sent letters warning students about the reintroduction of fees there were many parents phoning up panicking.”

He says the biggest problem is that nobody knows what may lie ahead. “We were told to notify students, but that is all we know, we don’t know how much it will be, so we can not tell parents any more than that. We are continuing the fight against fees and are hoping that we can win the battle.”

The Union of Students in Ireland will host a public meeting for concerned parents and students in Galway on Monday (September 7 ).

The reintroduction of fees and its potential impact on Irish society and the country’s economy will be discussed at the event by a number of key speakers.

These include USI President Peter Mannion, Vice President of the National Union of Students in Australia Stefie Hinchy, and President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Sophia Blair, GMIT student union president Paddy Bonner, and NUIG student union president Donna Cummins.

Bonner said that it is hoped that the student union representatives from Australia, and New Zealand will help create awareness of the impact that introducing fees had on their own educational systems. He says, “The introduction of fees has had detrimental effects in Australia and New Zealand, and if introduced here will force many students out of college and create barriers to education.”

On the public meeting USI President Peter Mannion said, “This is an open event for any parent or student who is anxious about, or who wants more information on, how the reintroduction of third level fees will affect them. Families need to know how the implementation of a deferred-loan system for students, or a tax on graduates, will impact on them.

”We have been inundated with parents expressing major concerns about fees. This is a very real issue for families and has the potential to crush the hopes of thousands of young people who want to enter third level education in the future.”

The meeting is open to all members of the public and will take place in St Patrick’s National School on Lombard Street in Galway city centre.

Doors will open from 8pm and the meeting will commence at 8.30pm.

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