For Immediate Release


Union of Students in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union condemn Trinity head’s fees claim

The Union of Students in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union have shot down claims from Trinity College Dublin President Patrick Prendergast on the reintroduction of third level fees.

This is a response to Prendergast’s call on RTE show “Aoibhinn & Company” that the reintroduction of third-level fees needs to be examined, reported in today’s Irish Daily Mail.

Prendergast suggests that a student loan scheme should be investigated alongside full fees being charged by Higher Education Institutes.

Tom Lenihan, TCD Students’ Union President said:

“These comments by the Provost are unwelcome and inappropriate as the Student Hardship Fund is more hard pressed than ever before. For the past few years, a lot of students find it hard to even go to college. We are trying to support these students in need as best we can but if students are forced to bear a heavier burden, then drop out rates will increase.

The Student Hardship Fund is a college-assigned fund that supports students on the basis of means-testing. This year TCDSU are rolling out an initiative to help raise more money for the fund through events, fundraisers and collections. In addition, TCDSU President, Tom Lenihan, will be donating half of his salary (€8,000) to the Student Hardship Fund this year. This is more than five times more than the Provost’s €1,500 cut.

Joe O’ Connor, USI President said:

“Mr Prendergast’s statements are most unwelcome at a time where many families are struggling to meet the already burdensome cost of college. Should they be acted upon, they would represent a shift towards an elitist system of delivering Higher Education.

There is no question that recent increases in the Student Contribution Charge, now at 2,500, have led us to a situation where we already have student fees in this country. We have in fact the 2nd highest rate of fees in the entire OECD area, second only to the United Kingdom.

It is well-established that student loan schemes do not solve the difficulty which students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who are generally much more debt averse, face in making the decision as to whether they can afford to attend college.

Access to third level education should be a right for young people in this country, and should never be seen as a privilege. Having a highly educated and productive workforce is a benefit to society as a whole, and not just to the individual who attends college, and this must remain a fundamental principle of the Irish Higher Education system.”

USI believes that the significant drop off in access to third level experienced in the UK, which in recent years introduced a system similar to that which Mr Prendergast clamours for, can be held up as an example of a direction which our Higher Education system must simply not take.

USI believes the high levels of access to third-level education In Ireland must be protected, and no further hardship should be subjected on families who see the vital importance to the future prospects of their sons and daughters of obtaining a third level qualification.

The conversation on third-level funding should be focused around the implementation of efficiencies within the Higher Education system, to be identified through the Sustainability report currently being conducted by the Higher Education Authority, and on the increase of public funding in line with any economic upturn that is brought about.


Joe O’ Connor, USI President: 0872191862