Third level students and staff across Ireland staged a number of campus walk outs to protest the lack of funding for higher level institutions last Thursday, March 21st.
The “Fund the Future” campaign, organised by the Coalition for Publicly Funded Higher Education, called on the government to provide greater funding to third level institutions, noting that the recommendations published in the 2016 Cassells report, which advised a substantial increase in higher level investment “to ensure that the system is able to deliver fully on its role in supporting our national economic and social development.”
The protests were coordinated in the wake of a letter published in The Irish Times on March 11th, signed by all presidents of third-level students’ unions in Ireland and the USI (Union of Students in Ireland), which criticised the government suggested
“The maintenance of the ‘free fees’ scheme, which forces students to choose between staying in college and eating, is also not a viable option” the students wrote, “We now have the second highest fees in Europe at €3,000 a year, coupled with the spiralling costs of accommodation across all urban centres.”
Third level staff also participated in the walkouts, with SIPTU (Service, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union), Fórsa, and The Irish Federation of University Teachers members of the Coalition for Publicly Funded Higher Education behind the #FundTheFuture movement.
SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Karl Byrne said in a statement said third level institutions faced some of the harshest cuts in state investment during the financial crisis, but the number of students in higher level education have “surged on the back of a demographic bulge.” “Students face the prospect of paying some of the highest fees in Europe with a student grant, which in no way covers the cost of living for struggling and disadvantaged students” he said.
The Government previously announced in October that the 2019 budget would include an additional €57 million allocated to funding higher education.