The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is urging the newly-appointed minister to take immediate action and increase publically-funded education.
USI President, Kevin Donoghue, argues that Richard Bruton's previous experience as both Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Minister for Enterprise and Employment will make him realise the importance of a highly educated work force to a growing economy.
"The government needs to step up, accept it caused the current funding crisis in education with successive cuts and seek to rectify it by increasing public funding," said Kevin.
"The government needs to invest more in publically-funded education and see education as the backbone of the economy, instead of an unnecessary expense,” he added.
In the 507 page briefing document prepared for Richard Bruton, Alan Wall, an assistant secretary in the department, called the current expenditure “woefully inadequate”.
The €350 million planned for capital investment by 2021 is less than 10% of the €3.8 billion department officials estimate is needed.
“You cannot slash publically-funded education and then wonder why there’s a funding crisis six years later,” said Donoghue.
“Ireland has one of the most grossly underfunded education systems in the EU, with the second highest registration fee in Europe of €3,000. Other countries in Europe offer better pay and lower registration fees, making the cost of education cheaper abroad.
"Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland all offer free education. The registration fee in France is €180 - €2,820 cheaper than the Irish registration fee. Publically-funded free education is not impossible. If it was, so many other countries in Europe wouldn’t offer it,” Donoghue concluded.