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"We cannot take this anymore" - Thousands of students take to the streets of Dublin

Students are objecting to any consideration of the introduction of a student loan scheme in Ireland.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS took to the streets of Dublin today calling for more Government funding for third-level education and protesting against an introduction of college fees.

Chants calling for free education and no college fees were heard as the students marched down O’Connell Street and the North Quays towards the square close to Government Buildings.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the march, Trinity College Dublin Student Union president Kieran McNulty said people had come out to highlight the growing issues around third-level funding in Ireland.

“We’re out here saying education is our right and more funding needs to go into higher education and the decision needs to come now,” said McNulty.

“Students have seen cuts to their counselling services, the staff to student ratio is far too wide at the minute,” he said.

We need more investment and it needs to happen now

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Cassels report

The Cassels report into future funding for third-level education was published in July of this year. The report concluded that current funding arrangements for the sector were not sufficient.

The report recommended a number of different funding arrangements for the sector. Among them was an income dependent student loan model similar to one in the UK.

Under this model, students would be lent in the region of €20,000 for a college course, which they would then pay back when they begin earn an income after completing their education.

Students today were vehemently opposed to this option, calling instead for a significant increase in State funding for degrees. This is another option floated by the Cassels report and one used in many European countries.

IMG_20161019_133307 Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the march, AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger said that the student-loan system had been “very damaging” to students in other countries and should not be put in place in Ireland.

“The idea that you graduate and you’re stuffed with money is just not the case,” said Coppinger.

“What [this model] means is that before you start out on your work life you’ve got this massive debt on your back.

We’ve already got a lot of young families who are struggling under negative equity and huge mortgage debt and now we want to ping it onto young people.

IMG_20161019_142315 TD Ruth Coppinger at today's demonstration. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“Outraged”

Coppinger said her party supports the full public funding of education at all levels.

This appeared to be the view of the thousands of students present at the march today.

Addressing the crowd from the podium, president of the Union of Students Ireland Annie Hoey gave an impassioned and angry speech saying students were “outraged” at any prospects of a student loan scheme being introduced.

“We cannot take this anymore,” she said.

IMG_20161019_133048 Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“How dare they play with our future, how dare they toy with our opportunities and how dare they play the sympathy card that they can’t afford it!,” she said to loud cheers from the crowd.

The USI will make a presentation to Oireachtas Committee for Education and Skills around their proposals for third level education on 8 December.

Read: FactCheck: Does Ireland really have the “highest education” in Europe?

Read: Here’s what students need to know when looking for accommodation 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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