The government announced last week that the Student Registration Fee is to be increased to €2,000.
The increase in the newly named Student Contribution Fee is part of the government’s four year austerity plan to decrease the national debt.
Students’ Union President Paul Lynam said: “Obviously we’re incredibly disappointed. It’s a short sighted decision by the government. It will cause incredible hardship on students across the country.”
The University Observer contacted the Fianna Fáil press office, who declined to make any further comments about the plan or to speculate on further cuts to be announced with the budget.
A Fianna Fáil representative explained that the charge was a levy to subsidise the cost of medical services, exams, counselling and other services. Students in receipt of local authority grants are currently exempt from paying the charge, but it is unknown at present whether this will continue to be the norm.
Students attending Post Leaving Certificate courses will now have to pay a fee of €200. The minimum wage is also to be decreased by €1 to €7.65, a move which will affect students operating part-time jobs for minimum wage.
A Fianna Fáil press release stated “[the education] sector must embrace radical reform, dust off the status-quo, and ensure continually better outcomes for such a large commitment from the taxpayer”.
Lynam was keen to emphasise his belief that the USI march against fees that took place on the 3rd of November was not waste of time. “We were told before the march that €3,000 was the likely outcome in terms of the registration fee, then we were told after the march €2,500 and now its €2,000. I can only speculate what grant cuts would have been made if we didn’t do the march.”
Lynam promised that UCDSU would continue to work for the fight against fees and has called for more action from the USI given the success of the November 3rd protest: “I need to look at UCD’s budget itself after December 7th. I’ve called for an emergency [USI] national council to be held on December 9th and 10th and we’ll just take it from there.”