Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has released a statement on its Facebook page addressing a 5% fee increase in postgraduate and continuing international student fees, news that appears to break a college agreement on fee certainty reached this year.
According to TCDSU President Shane De Rís, the 5% increase is a complete betrayal of the cooperation that surfaced following the protests in March. He went on to add: “College, at the time, embraced the fee certainty proposal and had bought into what we, as students, were calling for; what is fair and just.”
He noted the change in attitude of College and recognised; “College is now contending that this agreement, entered into by students with the college, does not apply to international students studying in the E3 Learning Foundry (natural sciences, engineering, and computer sciences, among others), Medicine, and Dentistry. These students have now seen their fees unexpectedly rise by 5%.”
“The students have once again been let down by an out of touch administration which completely disregards the impact of its decision on the lives of students.”
He went on to advise students to avoid paying their fees until negotiations take place, saying: “We advise all students, who require registration for visa or other reasons, to only pay the minimum necessary amount to acquire such documentation until the situation has been clarified and resolved. If you do not require such documentation, we advise non-payment of your fees until this situation is resolved.”
The Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) have also expressed their opposition to the move, with President of USI, Síona Cahill stating: “It appears that Trinity attempted to quietly announce a 5% fee increase for students in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine – already very lucrative courses for the college. This move by Trinity is totally disrespectful of their own students, demonstrating a complete lack of compassion or regard for the well-being of the people who come to learn in their institution.”
Cahill expressed her disappointment at the “cruel and exploitative practices” imposed on international and postgraduate students in the Irish education system. “This fee increase will only add to the significant barriers to accessing accommodation and affordable living as students,”she said calling on the government to “act and to ensure college authorities cannot raise fees on a whim for non-EU and postgraduate students.”
“USI advocates for a publicly funded model for Higher Education, but in the short-term the Oireachtas must legislate for fee regulation to prevent this from happening again.”
TCDSU’s statement noted the meeting of College officials with De Rís and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Oisín Vince Coulter, which will take place on Monday.