Registration charge – the ‘real’ tuition fee?

Over the past three or four days a lot of strange things have been said about the student registration charge. For those who don’t know what this is, it is a payment that has been levied on students since the late 1990s and which, in the absence of fees, was intended as a charge to pay for specific student services. For the first few years of its existence it was fairly modest throughout the higher education sector. However, over recent years it has been increased more rapidly, and this year it has been set at €1,500 per student.

In the aftermath of the Fianna Fail/Green revised programme for government last weekend, the Green Party Leader, John Gormley, suggested on RTE radio that universities could (but, he thought, should not) raise the registration charge to secure more income. On Monday the Minister for Education, Batt O’Keeffe, suggested – also on RTE radio – that universities could raise the charge if they could demonstrate that the relevant student services were more costly than could be covered by the current charge. A major hike in the charge was also predicted by the Irish Independent.

All this is fiction. Ever since I have been President of DCU, I have had no input whatsoever into the setting of the charge. Rather, we get a statement from the Higher Education Authority which tells us what the charge is going to be; we are not as much as consulted along the way. And it is made absolutely clear that if we were to charge any more, the additional money would be clawed back from the recurrent grant. Therefore it is wholly misleading to suggest that the student charge is in any way under our control.

However, given that this has been raised as a topic, it is time for some clarity as to what is to happen to this particular payment. Will it be increased further, and if so, by what process?

And just for the record, in DCU the cost of providing the student services which are included in the original purpose of the charge are at least 50 per cent higher than the income from the current charge.

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3 Comments on “Registration charge – the ‘real’ tuition fee?”

  1. John O Reilly Says:

    I am very impressed with this blog
    Heard Ferdinand first at my daughters conferring in 2007 and continue to be impressed.
    I must learn off this latest contribution as it articulates exactly what I feel. Alas bedgrudgery and negative soundbites are dominating our airwaves and ultimately our thinking. If we dont change our thinking in 2016 we will be celebrating 1916 in the poor house

  2. Mark Dowling Says:

    Maybe DCU should stop levying a Registration Charge and start calling it a Higher Education Authority Tax?

    I (and I would think current students) wouldn’t mind seeing a breakout of both the services referred to above and how they are funded. Specifically, how is the deficit made up?


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