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Hibernia is a third-level private college which runs teaching courses for primary and post-primary schools. Alamy Stock Photo
hibernia college

Teacher-training college backs down from hiking 'extortionate' charges after student backlash

Hibernia College had told graduating students that their course fees of €15,000 will no longer cover a final charge to achieve certification.

ONE OF THE country’s leading teacher-training colleges has been criticised for attempting to hike fees for final-year students by €200, just weeks before they graduate.

Hibernia College contacted graduating students about the requirements to secure their final qualification, informing them that their normal course fee – which totals €15,000 – will no longer cover the remaining charges related to their course.

Instead, they were told that a fee of €200 would be imposed before they could gain their Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) certification.

However, a backlash to the hike has seen the college walk back the attempt to charge extra and apologise for the rise, after a number of students contacting its management in recent days.

Hibernia is a third-level private college which runs teaching courses for primary and post-primary schools. Founded more than 20 years ago, it has trained more than 12,000 teachers to date and can often have approximately 2,000 people enrolled in any given academic term.

If it had proceeded with the charge, it would have left students who entered the college in spring 2022 with an additional bill of €200.

One student who spoke to The Journal blasted the “last minute” decision for people who have just finished their course to become a teacher.

They said it was a “mistreatment of students” given the “extortionate” cost of the five-figure study fees.

The college told The Journal that the planned introduction of the additional €200 payment will “not be applicable” anymore. 

According to an email seen by The Journal, the college is facing  “ongoing inflationary cost increases” which has led to it deciding to impose the charge. 

But after strong criticism by students, it sent a further email to say that it had decided that “based on feedback” from students, it will “absorb” the fee this year.

It said this was being done to “acknowledge that we did not provide sufficient notice of the imposition of this charge, which we regret”. 

However, it has not ruled out adding the fee for future students.

“Hibernia College confirms that the introduction of a QQI Certification fee payment for this year’s graduating students will not be applicable,” a spokesperson told The Journal. 

“Students have been notified to this effect. Future policy in relation to the matter is under review.”

Another student who contacted The Journal described the situation as “a joke”.

“It is clear that this is all in the name of further profit, and not ‘inflationary costs’ as Hibernia College’s email stated,” the student said. 

Union reaction

While stating that it does not comment on internal issues in individual colleges, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) was critical of the cost of education facing trainee teachers. 

It said teaching as a profession has become “beyond the reach” for many, especially working class people. 

“Over the years, the ASTI has continued to highlight the high cost of entry to second-level teaching and the impact of this on access to teaching as a career,” it said. 

“This is all the more pertinent in recent years due to Ireland’s teacher shortage crisis.”

The ASTI noted that second-level teaching normally requires a degree and a two-year professional master of education (known as a PME), meaning that many teachers spend up to six years qualifying for the job. 

“ASTI policy is that the two year PME be reduced to one year and that the cost of entry to teaching be addressed in a meaningful way,” a union spokesperson said.

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