The proposed student loan scheme which seeks to increase funding for Higher Education was pushed back by at least a year earlier this month.
The Department of Education referred the scheme to the European Commission to carry out an analysis of the possible policy options. These policies provide for more investment to be made in universities and institutes of technologies to make third level education more accessible to lower income prospective students.
The policies were first laid out in the ‘Investing In National Ambition: A Strategy For Funding Higher Education’ report published in 2016. The student loan schemes from countries such as Norway, England, and the United States were used as models for the policies. The proposal is a choice between introducing a predominantly stated funded system, retaining the current €3000 student fees with an increase in state funding, or increasing state funding with deferred payment of fees until the graduate passes a specified income threshold.
“We need a system that is responsive to the changing and diverse needs of learners, society and the economy; that relentlessly seeks to enhance quality and outcomes; and that is part of a much broader, coherent and integrated post second level system,” said Peter Cassells, the Chair of the Expert Group on Future Funding of Higher Education.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) believes that Higher Education should be publicly funded and without any distinction between socio-economic backgrounds. Students from lower-income backgrounds tend to be more averse to debt which means that the proposed deferred payment of fees policy would not benefit them, according to President of the USI Síona Cahill.
“Debt aversion is a class issue and a deterrent to prospective students, even outweighing aspiration, career-work objectives, encouragement and other social factors,” said Cahill.