The Union of Students’ Ireland (USI) are rallying the students to march in Dublin tomorrow, November 3rd, in protest against the proposed cuts to third-level funding.
The “Education, not Emigration” protest is being held in response to revelations that the government is planning to double the registration fee to €3,000, cut grants by ten per cent and increase the threshold for qualifying the grant by ten per cent in the December budget. The protest is also to focus on the lack of efforts made by the government to fight graduate emigration and unemployment.
UCD Students’ Union have ordered 50 buses to transport student from campus to Parnell Square, where the protest will begin. When asked if he thought the buses would be filled, UCDSU President Paul Lynam stated: “I would hope so” and that “there isn’t union who has put as much money, has put enough time, has put as much effort into what we’re campaigning for. I’m proud of that.”
Lynam also discussed the effect that the recession has had on some students and the effects that even harsher cuts to grants will have on future students. “There’s a certainty that if the grant is cut there are students who won’t be in UCD next year. There is a certainty that if the funding of our institutions continues to get cut, the abolishment of the student assistant fund and the scaling back of the student welfare fund, there will be students who will not be in UCD next year.”
With 15,000 students expected to march between Parnell Square and Government buildings, huge disruptions can be expected in Dublin city centre. When questioned about the inconvenience that will be caused to the public, Lynam responded, “If people are annoyed about the disruption, well so be it. We’re annoyed the decisions being made haven’t even considered the future of the country.”
This will be the third time in six years that students have marched against rising cost of third-level education. Lynam maintains that protests do work: “When fees were to come back in 2004, they marched and fees weren’t brought back in. In 2008 again we did march and fees weren’t brought back in.”
Lynam believes that now, more than ever, there is a necessity to march against fees: “In 2010 circumstances are a lot worse. This isn’t an ideological left versus right. This is about the registration fee doubling.”