The student contribution will increase by €250 to €2,250 pending the approval of Budget 2012 in the Dáil.

Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, who announced the increase said it will save €18.5 million. The maintenance grant also looks set to be cut by about 3%.

The big losers of the day were future postgraduate students, with the government announcing that new postgraduate students will no longer receive maintenance grants. The government will however pay a portion of fees for students from low incomes (who earn less than €22,703) backgrounds but will not provide them with a maintenance grant.

The cuts come despite a pre-election pledge by the Labour Party to not increase the student contribution or cut the mainteanance grant. USI President, Gary Redmond, reacting to the budget announcement said, “The promises laid out in glossy election manifestos, which were loudly trumpeted by candidates less than nine months ago, now lie in tatters along with the credibility of this Government’s stated aim of building long-term sustainable economic growth.”

Despite an increase in the student contribution third level sector funding will be cut by 2% overall in both core and non core funding.

Students from the FEE campaign occupied the constituency office of Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy in Ranelagh for a number of hours today. The eight students agreed to vacate the premises despite their primary demand not being met, “FEE demands: That Deputy Eoghan Murphy vote against any rise in the student contribution or any cut to the maintenance grant, as well any proposals to bring in a graduate tax scheme or student loan system.”

Students from NUI Maynooth who have been occupying the constituency office of Fine Gael TD Anthony Lawor in Naas since Friday have refused to leave the building.

When asked this evening if students could do anything about the cuts to education, Gary Redmond writing on Twitter responded “Gov[ernment] shall hear from students before Friday.”

UPDATE: Maynooth Students’ Union occupation protest in Naas ended last night when Gardaí removed them from the building shortly before 2am

Donie O’Sullivan