College rankings and employment figures will benefit from increased investment and a plan for re-generation of smart economy, says USI

The Union of Students in Ireland has called on the Ministers for Finance and Education, Michael Noonan and Ruairi Quinn, to reject the IMF’s recommendation to re-introduce full college fees. USI says the government must support students and invest in the third level sector if it wants to maintain Ireland’s educational reputation, boost employment and re-generate our lauded smart economy.

USI President John Logue said:

“The IMF’s recommendations in relation to third level fees demonstrate why it is so dangerous to assume that it can speak with authority on all matters. In recommending that fees should be linked to the costs of courses and that low-income students should be offered loans, the IMF is trying to prescribe for Ireland a system that has been disastrous for American third level education.

In all instances where such a system has been implemented, fees have ballooned dramatically and student debt has spiralled out of control. Instead of supporting low-income students, loan schemes actually discourage such students from seeking a third level education due to debt aversion.

If this government wants to spur the Irish economy forward and maintain standards in education then it must recognise the need to invest in the sector and support students.”

The IMF has recommended that college fees should be linked to the costs and earnings potential of courses while suggesting that low-income students should be supported through affordable loans and grants. By recommending such measures, the IMF reveals its American roots and thinking. If implemented, these recommendations would see a typical degree in medicine from UCC cost €41,685, while a degree in dentistry would cost €44,795.

The IMF suggests that these fees would be offset by loan schemes and grants. In America, the average student debt is $25,000 and overall student debt tops $1trillion. From 1983-2006, third level costs in America increased by 432% due to increased de-regulation of fees. Meanwhile, in the UK, students graduating in 2012 will be saddled with average debt of £35,000, while applications for university courses have fallen by 10% this year, a statistic that has been directly linked to the partial de-regulation of college fees.