People Before Profit, the government’s opposition party, proposed a bill that would abolish third-level fees to remove barriers and make higher education accessible to all.
The motion titled Young People and access to Further and Higher Education was voted down by the coalition government of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party, defeated 56 to 82.
The bill has received a lot of support from the Union of Students Ireland (USI) who held virtual and socially distant protests calling on the government to take action on issues facing students, including an end to fees.
Currently, third-level fees in Ireland are the highest across Europe starting at €3000 per year.
Following the government’s decision, People Before Profit Tweeted an image of the voting outcome captioned: “Tonight, the govt showed us how little they really care.”
It was not just political parties who were outraged by the decision. DCU student Adam Scully couldn’t help but feel “ignored” when he heard about the voting outcome.
Scully feels as though the government are neglecting students and that has been highlighted particularly throughout the pandemic.
The law and politics student did not qualify for a SUSI grant as both of his parent’s income was only slightly over the threshold.
“I could definitely use one because times have been extremely rough lately, particularly the last year, but the government don’t care,” he explained, “my cries will fall on deaf ears, it’s that simple.”
In order to qualify for a 100% SUSI grant for an undergraduate degree, which includes full fees covered and a monthly maintenance payment, household income must be below €24,500.
The highest household income that is eligible for a grant must be below €54,240, in which a student will get half of their fees paid for.
On Monday, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris took to Instagram to remind students to renew their SUSI grants. In the video he explained that they made a “number of changes to ensure more students can benefit.”
Harris explained that some of these changes extend to postgraduate students and that more changes are to come in the weeks and months ahead.
Scully said that he hopes these changes benefit him somehow, however he feels that “this isn’t enough, the best solution is to abolish fees altogether, but I really can’t see that happening any time soon.”