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Third Level Fees May Still Be Increased

Fine Gael's Enda Kenny and Noel Coonan discuss educational issues with Paidraig Culbert at Tipperary Institute, Thurles.

Fine Gael's Enda Kenny and Noel Coonan discuss educational issues with Padraig Culbert at Tipperary Institute, Thurles.

The renewed Programme for Government negotiated between Fianna Fáil and the Greens last week took the reintroduction of college fees off the table for the present, but there are now fresh worries that the Government will hike college registration fees instead.

Neither the Minister for Education, the Green Party Leader or the Minister for Communications have ruled out such an increase. This deception would not be above the bounds of this present government and one manipulative way of getting around their  guarantee of not re-introducing college fees.

Last March Fine Gael outlined its position on the issue of higher education in a document called ‘Third Way’. The Party is committed to the introduction of a student contribution scheme based on students paying a certain percentage of their undergraduate degree course back to the state when they are in a position to do so.

North Tipperary Fine Gael Deputy Noel Coonan stated:-

“Cash-strapped families in North Tipperary are already struggling to send their children to college. Rising registration fees at this time will stop many from furthering their education. We have almost 1,500 people in North Tipperary under the age of 25 drawing the dole and the Government should be encouraging these people to upskill and instead of  hindering them from doing so. Fine Gael believes that no new scheme of funding higher education is proposed by the Greens/FF and as such their response to the issue is totally inadequate. This Government hiked registration fees in the last budget from €900 to €1,500 which was a huge jump and a gargantuant blow to middle-income families. It seems to me that the Government will be considering a further increase which I believe is an inadequate way of funding higher education. We are opposed to the reintroduction of college fees because this would simply act as a barrier to required participation in higher education.”

Fine Gael has argued that the PRSI system provides a vehicle for ring fencing student contributions when a person has gained employment and can afford to make a contribution.

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