Students across the island of Ireland have today kicked-off a series of actions aimed at urging their TDs to sign a pledge committing to six actions as part of the Union of Students in Ireland’s new Education for All campaign.
The USI, which represents 374,000 students in Ireland, has written to the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris calling on him to take action on the key issues that prevent many from accessing third level education.
Among the actions demanded is an end to the €3,000 student contribution fee – the highest such charge in the EU – starting with an immediate €500 reduction in Budget 2021 which is due to be announced next month.
Discussing the Education for All campaign, which launches today (September 21), USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “The student contribution charge is a major barrier to many people on the island of Ireland accessing higher education. Today, students are calling on their TDs to sign our pledge and make a commitment to campaign on the issues outlined in the letter to Minister Harris. USI is urging local public representatives to sign the pledge and commit to regular meetings with their local Students’ Union officers to push the issue of higher education funding to the forefront of the political agenda.”
“Education is the great liberator and as we enter a very difficult time for our economy and our society, making such a bold long-term investment could reshape our country’s recovery. For instance, every €1 invested into higher education, delivers a €4 return to the wider economy. Higher education funding will boost economic activity, create jobs and further enhance innovation and investment into Ireland.”
Explaining what will be involved in Education for All, USI Vice President for Campaigns, Craig McHugh said: “Today across Ireland, students will be staging socially distanced protests calling for urgent action on higher education funding in order to make sure that there is Education for All across this island. The USI and Students’ Unions will be encouraging students to get involved in the campaign and contact their local representatives. The pledge is available at usi.ie/EducationForAll and we will continue to call on every TD to sign the pledge and commit to working with us on these vital issues which prevent Ireland from proving Education for All.”
The over-reliance on the private sector to meet student accommodation needs is also outlined in the letter to Minister Harris. In previous discussions with the USI, Minister Harris has already recognised the need for more public investment in student housing.
The USI believes that Government building and regulating student housing would alleviate significant pressure on the private housing market.