In the coming four years third level students may have to deal with an increase in the student contribution charge. Minister for Education, pharm Ruairi Quinn, recipe has hinted an increase of €250 over the proposed four years until the charge reaches €3000 in the year 2015.

Whilst running for the election, Quinn had the position of spokesperson on education for the Labour party. A promise to freeze student fees and cuts was announced in favour of students around the country. A reversal of the €500 increase in the Budget 2011 was also assured by the minister.

These promises were made by Quinn in a hope to make the future more predictable but only have done the opposite for struggling students. When confronted about the situation, he said: “With regard to breaking promises, I didn’t feel great about it all. I still don‘t feel great about it, but I have to get on with it”.

Gary Redmond, President of the Union of Students in Ireland, stated that there was “always the suspicion” that Quinn had planned to “increase it over the lifetime of his government”. Redmond believes that he has “a duty to come clean with students and families.”

A comparison made between the Irish fees and the £9,000 fees in England was highlighted by Quinn as a remedy for the situation. It was also stressed that 40 per cent of students who receive the grant are exempt from the charges.

The 2011 Hunt Report said that an increase of €500 million in funding for higher education must be reached by 2020 to accommodate the estimated 30 per cent increase in student numbers.

The USI leader said Minister Quinn may “dress up these increases in any manner he sees fit, the reality of the situation is that these decisions will accelerate the number of young people forced to leave the county and sentence many more to long term employment”.

Leighanne Bent