Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn T.D visited the University of Limerick today as part of the Issues in Irish Journalism Seminar and discussed the economic concerns facing Irish students.
Minister Quinn addressed student’s concerns of increasing fees and explained that fees could go up to €3000 in the next two years.
He was confronted by Campaigns and Services Officer, Paddy Rockett, about breaking his party’s promises to Irish students to not raise fees, causing mass student protests for the past two years.
Minister Quinn responded by stating that he did not ‘feel great’ about having to break this promise but in regards to the student protests, he said that ‘the first phase of street politics is knowing when to come off the streets.’
However, Minister Quinn is seeking to ease the worries of cash-strapped students by introducing a new Grant Holding Authority that will be ‘like booking a Ryanair flight.’ He explained that the scheme will be carried out online and it will take into account all aspects of the individual student’s financial circumstances.
In Ireland, 65 per cent of young people take on the transition from second level to third level education. 41 per cent of these students avail of the grant system and do not pay registration fees.
Minister Quinn argued in the seminar that better cooperation and collaboration is needed between third level institutions such as Mary Immaculate College and University of Limerick to reduce the number of courses each institution offers.
By developing such links, the Government will be enabled to fund third level institutions without the need for self-assistance by the institutions themselves. He stated that ‘there is a huge investment of taxpayers’ money into third level education.’
Speaking about the future of Irish journalism, Minister Quinn insisted that students should retain their passion for curiosity and be interested in public affairs and ‘be close to a politician but don’t get into bed with them.’