Union of Students in Ireland Criticises New Draft Report of Student Loan System

The Union of Students in Ireland has criticised the new proposed loan scheme for students. It said it is overwhelmingly intimidating and will deter students from applying to college. College graduates could face loan repayments in the region of €25 a week over a 15-year period under major reforms to third-level funding proposed in a Government-commissioned report.

A draft report recommends the introduction of a new income-contingent loan system for graduates, increased maintenance grants for students from low income families and a greater contribution from both the State and employers.

The findings are contained in a confidential 70-page draft report entitled Funding Irish Higher Education: A Virtuous Circle of Investment, Quality and Verification. USI said that an already broken loan system will only further fracture the structure of the Irish education system.

“This would represent a real increase of €7,500 in fees for third level. It is unreasonable to think an increase in the current fee levels should be part of addressing third level funding.” Kevin Donoghue, Union of Students in Ireland President, said, “In supposed times of recovery, 30,000 people have already emigrated from Ireland this year alone. The USI said this loan system will only push people further away and outlined that other countries in Europe offer better pay and lower registration fees, making the cost of education cheaper abroad. The federal 3rd level loan system did not work in Australia, the UK or the USA. It would be impractical and illogical to introduce an already broken loan scheme to Ireland.

Kevin Donoghue, Union of Students in Ireland President

“For the majority of students that struggle to find a well-paid job straight out of college, this debt can be overwhelmingly intimidating – like a huge bet they lost. Unsubsidized loans will even build interest while you you’re enrolled. For many young people, the lack of financial security will deter even more students from applying to college.”

The student loan system crippled the government so much in the UK that they had to sell off the student loan books at the end of 2013.The privatisation of this public asset meant that the money borrowed from the Government to pay for public universities in the UK started to flow straight to private financial institutions, which (like the privatisation of the NHS and Royal Mail in the UK) will undoubtedly have dire long-term consequences. Selling into privatisation is an assault on the education system, and in turn, students.

“This system did not work in the UK, Australia or America.” Donoghue said “It would desecrate Ireland, tearing it apart and converting it from the Land of Saints and Scholars into the Land of Corporate Greed and Economically Paralysed.”

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