Hundreds of families all across County Tipperary face being ostricised by proposed increases to third level college fees with the CAO/CAS offers having being made to 2011 Leaving Cert students this week, the Tipperary Star can reveal.
In what has been a very difficult week for Leaving Cert students and their families all over The Premier County, the prospects of increases to the fees at third level colleges add further pressure to many already under stress families. And, in spite of the huge concerns about the results in the maths examinations, even those who failed to get honours in the subject will know that further increases to fees add up to major hardship for parents and students trying to support third level ambitions.
Deputy Michael Lowry this week told The Tipperary Star that any increase would have “devastating effects” on countless families and insisted that he is vehemently opposed to any such increases. His comments come in the wake of a statement made by Minister Ruairi Quinn where he refused to give any guarantees that third level fees would not be reintroduced, only stating that the cost to the state of third level education has increased and that savings must be made across the education budget. Minister Quinn conceded that it is “hard to see” how higher education can meet the targets set for it by Government without new revenue streams.
Deputy Lowry said, “Families today are being hit with increased costs from every direction. It is unconscionable to raise the costs of education to a level which would put it beyond the reach of countless people. It is my belief that providing an educated and skilled work force is essential to moving out of our current economic difficulties. Minister Quinn himself stated that a good educational system acts as a pension fund for the rest of the nation, yet he is considering making third level education aspirational instead of accessible, thereby crippling us into the future in a time where we are trying to grow as a nation.”
He added that the uncertainty over the future of college fees is particularly upsetting on a week where thousands of students across Tipperary and Offaly received their leaving cert results. “After years of hard work they are now excited about moving forward with their careers or commencing colleges and universities. CAO offers will be granted, but how many of these students will be unable to attend or finish their college courses if fees rise? We need education for our students not emigration. Students today are struggling to put themselves through college. Grants have been cut, yet costs remain high, between fees, rent and the cost of living as well as books. I believe that any increase in college fees will have a hugely detrimental impact, particularly on families with more than one child in third level education,” Deputy Lowry told us this week.
The Independent Deputy added that throughout his career the issue of college fees has been of paramount importance. As part of the previous administration this was a key issue for him and in the last Budget he ensured that increases in third level fees were not introduced.
“Minister Quinn had signed a petition organized by the Union of Students, Ireland declaring that he would not cut grants or increase fees. I am calling on him to stand by his pledge in the coming months,” Deputy Lowry said.