USI says the “once-off” reduction will not remove the barrier to higher education

They say that the “once-off” reduction comes “too late for students who have already deferred their places in college this year”

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has responded to reductions in college fees in Budget 2023. 

USI has criticised the €1,000 reduction to the Student Contribution Charge in Budget 2023 saying that it should have been “a permanent reduction in fees for all students as a move towards abolishing the charge”.

They note that the “’once-off’ student fee reduction in Budget 2023 will not remove the barrier of high cost of college in Ireland”.

“While the ‘once-off’ €1,000 reduction is of course welcome, students are left not knowing where they stand for the future.”

The statement also notes that “the reduction comes too late for students who have already deferred their places in college this year because they could not afford the costs”. 

USI President Beth O’Reilly said: “Today’s Budget was a missed opportunity to permanently reduce the Student Contribution Charge and start the move towards abolishing fees.”

“In our Pre-Budget submission, USI called for a permanent €1,000 reduction in fees. In these expensive times, this ‘once-off’ reduction will be quickly spent on high rents and soaring costs-of-living.”

They noted that “government is recognising that high fees are a barrier to accessing higher education” and “the measures set to be introduced to SUSI from next year will not remove the significant barriers that currently face the hardest-pressed students and their families”.

“We need a move towards publicly funded higher education now. We also don’t see any measures in this Budget to address the serious student accommodation crisis, which is making college inaccessible, or an extreme hardship, for many.”

They continued:“Without significant action on student housing, including the announcement of a new student accommodation strategy, capital grants for affordable purpose-built student accommodation and rent freezes – along with action on the cost-of-living.”

USI Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, Waqar Ahmed is also quoted on the lack of measures in the Budget targeted at postgraduates. 

“This is a grossly insufficient budget for PhD researchers in Ireland and has nothing for young researchers. Minister Simon Harris continues to ignore a whole generation of PhD researchers whose working conditions are jeopardising their research, career and lives.”

“PhD researchers in Ireland are living way below the minimum wage or without a stipend. Despite our warnings and recommendations, the situation of thousands of PhD researchers is not addressed in any substantial manner in this budget.”

In Budget 2023, third-level fees are to be cut by €1,000 this year and significantly reduced on a means-tested basis over the coming years, according to early reports of Budget 2023.

All students in receipt of the SUSI grant will receive a double payment this year, while those studying for PHDs will get a once off cost of living payment before Christmas.

Following this year, reduction in student fees will be means-tested. Under the new plan, any family earning under €100,000 will see a permanent reduction of €500 in fees. Families earning €62,000 a year will pay no more than €1,500 in fees due to changes in student grant rules.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Deptuty Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister Sociology and Social Policy student. She previously served as News Editor and Assistant News Editor.