New students warned that fees are on the way
Students starting college are being officially advised that they may have to pay for their tuition from next year.
Third-level colleges have been told to inform the new intake of students about a possible government decision on some form of fees.
The Higher Education Authority has sent a letter to third-level colleges stating that incoming students "should now be on notice that in the event of a government decision to introduce a new form of student contribution from a future point in time, any such arrangements are liable to apply, from that time, to students who enter higher education this year".
It adds: "For example, the effect of this could be that incoming 2009 students would be liable for a new form of charge in the second year of their studies (in the event of a future government decision to introduce a new form of contribution from 2010)."
Students going to college this year already face an increased ‘registration charge’ of €1,500 year, an increase of 66pc in some institutions.
Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has signalled that the re-introduction of some form of student contribution is likely next year.
He favours a study-now-pay-later scheme where students would repay the Government after graduating .
However, he has circulated a range of options to Cabinet colleagues and is awaiting their views on September 15 before making any formal recommendation.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has reacted with outrage to the HEA letter.
"The minister’s proposals to reintroduce college fees will only further add to the devastation of Ireland’s economy," said USI president Peter Mannion.
USI is urging people to lobby their local TDs on the issue.
"It will significantly decrease the numbers of students being able to access third-level education and inevitably force thousands of students out of higher education and onto the already excessive social welfare queues," said Mr Mannion.
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