Deputy Michael Lowry has expressed grave concerns in relation to the budgetary measures announced. The Independent T.D. has stated that this year’s budgetary measures are hugely detrimental to the educational sector and will be a further blow to already stretched families.
Of particular concern, Deputy Lowry stated, is the areas of the budget that relate to third level education. Deputy Lowry stated;
“The educational sector has been badly hit in this budget. It is widely accepted and recognised that education is the way forward and our best hope of recovering from these difficult times. We need a highly educated, diverse workforce to help us move forward into the future. This has been recognised time and time again.”
“Yet despite this the government has chosen to break its promise to the electorate and increase the college registration fee by €250 which now brings the fees payable to €2,250. In addition the government have further cut the student maintenance grant. This increase will put third level education out of the reach of many people. We owe it to our young people to offer then every opportunity and chance to access third level education to further their career prospects in these difficult times.”
“In addition it is unclear as of yet how this fee will apply. Will it be applicable per annum? Will it increase in the coming years? We do not yet have the answers to these questions but Minister Quinn has refused to rule anything out.”
“It is also worth noting that the student maintenance grant will now been assessed in such a way that assets will be included. This will be a huge blow to farming families and the self employed who may have a number of assets but in reality may have a very low level of income. The actual rate of grant has also been reduced and has been further scaled back for postgraduate students.”
“This is an unacceptable situation. Minister Quinn prior to the general election made a pledge not to increase fees or cut the grant. He has now broken both these promises and ultimately deceived the electorate in making promises that he did not keep. Throughout my career I have made the accessibility of education a priority. This government has now chosen to make third level education aspirational rather than accessible.”