University tuition fees – the Minister moves?

Sean Flynn in today’s Irish Times has a very interesting piece on tuition fees – the Minister for Education is considering their reintroduction. It is vital that we do indeed have this discussion – it is, as I have said previously in this blog, difficult to see how we can address the resourcing deficit for higher education in Ireland unless this step is taken.

As we assess the next steps and undertake this debate, we shall need to ensure the overall funding issue for higher education is properly addressed, seen in the context also of Ireland’s international competitiveness; in other words, fees should produce added value, not replace government funding. And secondly, we need to ensure that there is a proper framework to support those who cannot afford to pay fees.

But this is good news, all in all. I am sure the universities will work constructively with the government in advancing this agenda.

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2 Comments on “University tuition fees – the Minister moves?”

  1. Ultan Says:

    I am all for having the discussion, and feel that fees should be reintroduced (though nobody will name a price). However, really, this argument for fees must be couched in terms of funding for a new sense of competitiveness and not the dismissive nonsense that the no-fees policy has not improved levels of access anyway (let’s face it, none of the people who use that argument are exactly killing themselves working in Fr. Peter Mcverry’s hostel). Furthermore, I’d really like to see universities step up to the plate and say exactly how they’re going to improve the quality of education for undergraduate students (the also-rans in the debate about competitiveness- totally dominated by research arguments – a good deal of which is totally suspect). I’ve studied to masters level in three of Ireland’s universities, and I can tell you that there are very, very many lecturers in business and information technology who really are very, very poor in terms of insight and ability and really should have been replaced years ago. Now would be the time for a new deal for students. All the funding in the world won’t improve the standard of education unless the people delivering it are either changed or can be changed.

  2. universitydiary Says:

    Responding to Ultan: I would disagree about access – the universities have put a lot of their own resources into this. DCU started its access programme in the 1980s, and it now costs us over €2m p.a., and funds about 10 per cent of the student body. So we have been very serious about this, and have a whole office doing nothing other than providing support for them.

    The quality of education is something we need to take seriously, and I agree that includes under-performance where it exists. It is however something we have been doing some things about – and it hasn’t always been easy. But I would equally say that the overwhelming majority of staff do a very conscientious job. But I agree that we need to be seen to be addressing this.

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