TENSIONS BETWEEN THE Fianna Fáil and Green parties are believed to have risen over the possible doubling of third-level registration fees to €3,000 a year.
The Union of Students in Ireland has said the increase would cause a greater number of students to drop out, RTÉ reports.
The Green Party claims that up to €5.7bn could be cut from Budget 2011 without introducing the fee hike, according to the Irish Examiner.
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Fianna Fáil minister Tony Killeen refused to rule out an increase in third-level registration fees, saying: “No area is exempt from consideration”.
A Green Party source told the Examiner that a fee increase would be in breach of the renewed programme for government agreed by the two parties. The programme states:
This Government will not proceed with any new scheme of student contribution to third-level education.
Green Party TD Paul Gogarty said that a reversal of the government’s commitments on education was a “crunch issue” for his party.
However, Gogarty told the Irish Times:
We have conceded that the new student charge that’s coming in is going to be higher than the registration fee it replaces, but the question is, how much higher? If it is too high, then it’s basically fees by the back door.
Fianna Fáil is reportedly considering increasing class sizes and reducing the number of special needs assistants.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Gary Redmond of the USI said that extra funding should be found from closing tax loopholes instead of raising the registration fee.
Redmond said that third-level education is completely underfunded, but is still seen by the public as the playground of the rich and upper classes, making it very easy for the government to cut funding for education.