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College registration fee could hit €3,000, warns education minister

Ruairí Quinn told students in Limerick that the reg fee could be €3,000 by 2015 – double what it was in 2010.

Ruairi Quinn signs a USI pledge in February, promising not to raise student contributions if he was in government after the election.
Ruairi Quinn signs a USI pledge in February, promising not to raise student contributions if he was in government after the election.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THIRD-LEVEL STUDENTS could be asked to pay up to €3,000 to register for college each year by 2015, the Minister for Education has hinted.

Ruairí Quinn told an audience of students in the University of Limerick that the registration fee paid by third-level students at the start of each year would be up by €250 next year and would likely keep increasing.

The Irish Independent’s Katherine Donnelly quotes him as saying the fee was “probably increasing up to €3,000″ in the coming years, essentially confirming that registration fees could continue to rise.

The increased fee – which was introduced in 1996 in lieu of full tuition fees, and originally stood at £150 – is paid by all undergraduate students, though students receiving maintenance grants have the charge paid by their local authority.

Quinn’s comments may indicate, however, that the government does not plan – for the moment at least – to remove the free undergraduate fees scheme which was introduced when Fine Gael and Labour were last in government.

Gary Redmond, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, said his union had been “incredibly concerned” that the fee – now formally classed a ‘student contribution’ – would continue to rise into the future.

“There was always the suspicion that the minister was going to increase it over the lifetime of his government, and pander to his backbenchers,” Redmond said.

Redmond said his understanding was that the fees would increase in €250 increments at least during the lifetime of the current Dáil, and that the moves were making third-level education a “less viable option” for most families.

“This increase won’t give colleges a single cent,” Redmond said, claiming that the 2012 Budget had simultaneously cut funding for third-level institutions while at the same time increasing the student contribution.

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Gavan Reilly

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