Students from across the country came out in droves to march in this USI rally, demanding for cuts in third level education fees and an increase in the amount provided in grants for students. Over 100 students travelled up from NUI Maynooth to show their support to the cause, which is over three times the amount they had last year.
Kate Walsh (19), who studies business in Maynooth feels that the lack of money provided to students is forcing many to take on part-time work, forsaking time needed for their studies. “I have a part time job, but I can only earn so much a week to make sure I can keep my grant."
“It doesn’t even cover the amount for my accommodation and it’s affecting my work because I end up working all weekend and all summer, just to save for about two months of college,” she added. A fellow Maynooth student, Gráinne Carr (19) said that because she doesn’t live on campus and since her brother also started attending college, a lot of pressure has been put on her parents.
“I mean this is absolutely ridiculous. My brother and I are both in college and we’ve had to work every single weekend just to get us through college and the travel expenses are huge themselves just to get up and down to college,” she said. Students recounted stories of friends they knew, who were forced to drop out of courses because it became too expensive to register and keep up with additional costs.
Joe Power (21), who studies visual communications in Waterford Institute of Technology travelled up to Dublin to show his anger at what the Government has done over the past couple of years. “People aren’t able to go to college because of fees and lack of grants. “Two years ago, I was studying a PLC with a girl, but she ended up dropping out because her grant didn’t come through on time and I mean how are people supposed to cope with that?” he asked.
Even international students were chanting the many educational chimes that rang through the crowd. One Polish student, studying psychology in the University of Limerick for six months, attended the rally because he doesn’t understand the fact Irish students are forced to pay for third level education. “We in Poland also think that education is very important, so to show our solidarity with Irish students all international students from UL came up to protect the rights of students,” explained Maksymilian Kiopinski (21).
Students from the Dublin Institute of Technology were particularly riled up since the opening of the new Grangegorman campus. Rebecca Holmes (20) is in third year studying neutroceuticals in Cathal Brugha Street and for her the facilities she is presented with aren’t enough to warrant the fees she pays. “I know I only have one more year to go, but I feel sorry for anybody coming in next year, because they’re going to be paying €3,000 next year. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t get a grant or anything, but my parents are struggling, like my dad is a member of the Gardaí and he can’t do anything when they’re cutting his wages- we’re struggling,” she added.
For Cormac Flood (22) a postgraduate student from Trinity College Dublin thinks that despite the need for rallies such as this one, we won’t see a change as long as the current Government is in power. “Until there is far more public funding for third level college, I don’t see a change in the life time of this Government. Fees will continue to rise until it is politically untenable to do so,” he added. Despite a relatively low turnout in comparison to other years, students were eager to voice their opinions.