Here is a report from the Irish Times on Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s exchange with Labour leader Eamon Gilmore in the Dáil (lower House of Parliament) earlier this week:
‘THE TAOISEACH criticised the rainbow coalition’s decision to abolish third-level fees during sharp exchanges with the Labour leader. Brian Cowen said the decision was made to eliminate all fees, regardless of income, when Labour was in government.
“That was not the most socially progressive thing that ever happened, since it allowed those who were well capable of paying fees to pay nothing, thereby limiting the number of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds accessing education,” he added.’
While I fully acknowledge that there are differences of opinions amongst readers here about tuition fees – and while I would for much of my adult life also have favoured a non-fee based system – I am pleased that the Taoiseach has referred to the socio-economic aspects of this issue. Tuition fees are not just about higher education funding, and it is useful to have the social element included in the discussions.