USI Warns of Soaring Drop-out Rates & The Death of the Smart Economy
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has responded with dismay to renewed speculation that the Government may double the Registration fee (Student Services Charge) from ?1,500 to ?3,000 in Budget 2011.
The most recent increase in the Registration fee from ?900 to ?1500 at the beginning of the last academic year resulted in large numbers of students who were unable to pay this increased charge and forced many to drop-out of education.
With one in every two students receiving a maintenance grant for the first time in the history of the state, a doubling of registration fee would have a direct impact on the ability of thousands of students to return to college next September.
In the renewed Programme for Government agreed last year between Fianna Fail and the Green Party, it was announced that there would be no re-introduction of third level tuition fees in lifetime of this government, however at a level of ?2,500 to ?3,000 an increased registration fee would simply be fees by another name.
A recent survey conducted by Bank of Ireland and SchoolDays.ie put the cost of one year in third level education for a student living away from home at more than ?9,000. This, combined with the current level of the registration fee and additional levies puts the cost of third level education at over ?11,000 for many students.
USI President, Gary Redmond, said:
"On the one hand the government continues to talk about building a smart, knowledge-based economy and yet there is little evidence of this on the ground. By increasing the registration fee further the government will be closing the door and ending opportunities for thousands of young people across the country.
While rival economies continue to invest in education in order to up-skill and foster an ethos of lifelong learning, Ireland continues to cut funding to education and short-circuit any chance of a recovery.
The international bond markets are forcing Ireland to make huge savings in Budget 2011 however ,investors are also lookings for evidence that Ireland will be able to repay its unprecedented level of debt. investing in education will ensure Ireland continues to produce graudates of internalional calibre and will provide unique opportunities for enterprise and attracting forerign direct investment.
Across the country tonight there are many families who will lose sleep worrying whether they can afford for their son or daughter to return to education in September. Many more will find themselves in an impossible position having to decide on how many, if any, of their children they can support through a third level education.
If the Registration fee is hiked in Budget 2011 this decision will directly result in thousands of dropouts and will be the death nail for Ireland's aspirations to build a knowledge based economy.
On Wednesday, thousands of students from all across the country will march on Dail Eireann to voice their opposition to the proposed cuts in the maintenance grant and the proposed increase in the Registration fee.
USI has renewed its calls on the government to secure Ireland's future by continuing to invest in education."
USI along with Students' Unions across the country will march from Parnell Square to Leinster House on Wednesday, 3rd of November.
Vote in our Campus.ie Poll to say what you think! Is it now necessary to emigrate straight after graduation?
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