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New Minister for Education must make fees funding decision

15 October 2018

Statement by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said that the new Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, needs to rule out student loan schemes. 

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The Government has been sitting on the report carried out by Peter Cassells into the future of higher education funding for months now. Three options were laid on the table, one of which is publicly funded higher education. The onus is on Ministers McHugh and Mitchell O'Connor to get the ball rolling on this extremely important issue.

“As Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are in stalemate over whether a student loan scheme or publicly funded third level education is the way forward. The two Fine Gael Ministers for Education needs to get off the fence and make their position on the funding of higher education known. Fianna Fáil are afraid to make their position known, less they upset anyone.

“This constant indecision by the two Government parties is ultimately hurting those directly involved. Third level institutions and students are suffering from the lack of certainty surrounding the future of funding. The lack of any movement in reducing third level fees or increase in the SUSI grant in last week’s budget, shows the lack of care this Government has given this vital sector.

"We in the Labour Party have made no secret about the fact that we believe it is time for college fees to go. Since the publication of the Cassells Report, we have argued against student loans.

“We know that employers benefit from a well-educated workforce and they should contribute just a little more towards the National Training Fund. The state should contribute a good bit more.

“My generation of students in the 1990s benefitted from Labour's belief in free education, it is time for a whole new generation to benefit in this way too.

"Labour's plan for full and equal access to higher education should become a reality in Ireland."