Fear of fees
There was an interesting opinion piece in yesterday’s Sunday Tribune, in which the writer, Shane Coleman, considered that some of our current national difficulties stem from the fact that we focus on trivial things or things that we can do nothing about, fearing to address those that really matter and which could and should be tackled. He raised third level fees as one of these:
‘An expert group has recently found that the current funding of universities and colleges is unsustainable and the system needs €500 million next year. It’s patently obvious that the funding crisis can be addressed only by the reintroduction of fees and an end to the current system in which middle-class college students are subsidised by working-class taxpayers. But no political party will go there. It’s hard to blame them. They won’t be thanked for putting forward the hard realities. In the current climate – or perhaps in any climate – any party even sticking their toe in such waters will be gobbled up in a wave of anger and hysteria. Unless and until that changes, we could be facing into many more winters of discontent.’
Of course I am well aware that many readers, and many others in the wider public, will not agree with the view that tuition fees need to be part of the solution to our higher education problems. But in political circles, behind closed doors and off the record, it is a matter of near-unanimity that Ireland cannot address the future of third level education without student contributions; even some Labour politicians will privately agree with this proposition. But most of the same politicians are convinced that middle class voters will punish them if they even mention this; there is, as I have discovered, a widespread view amongst politicians that working class voters will accept tuition fees without any argument (on the assumption that there is a reasonable grants framework), while middle class voters will not. And it is this, not any issue of principle, that is stopping political action, and is allowing the Greens to adopt a posturing position in the matter. As a country, we cannot afford this. Our education system is at stake.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education
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