College has approved a 5% increase in fees for postgraduates and non-EU undergraduate students. The College’s Finance Committee decided on the increase at a meeting on September 22.
The 5% increase will take effect in 2018/19 and applies to continuing students as well as students starting their degree next year.
Speaking to Trinity News, GSU President Shane Collins said that “nothing was off the cards” in terms of resisting the increase in fees. He said that the GSU had been anticipating a proposed increase in line with previous years, but that the scale of the 5% hike in fees had sent “alarm bells ringing”. Collins stated that members of Board had been generally receptive to postgraduate concerns and had supported sending the matter to Finance Committee to be reviewed. Board cannot, however, overturn the decision of the Finance Committee.
Collins said that when coupled with the dramatic rises in accommodation costs, College’s decision would see postgraduate students having to drop out. He argued that this would, in the long-run, result in lost revenue for College and did not represent a “fiscally responsible” decision on Trinity’s part. Collins insisted that the GSU were not simply “going to let this lie” and confirmed that they had already begun contacting politicians for support.
In the minutes of the meeting, the Committee “noted the positive impact the recommended increase would have on the University’s challenging financial position if student numbers remain unchanged”.
The committee also noted that 2016/17 fee increases had not affected student recruitment, nor had fee increases in 2017/18 affected student acceptances to date. The committee also notes that “insofar as was possible within budget constraints, student services for post-graduate and non-EU undergraduate students to receive targeted support from the additional fee income generated by the approved increases”.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane said: “The SU is extremely concerned at the increase in postgraduate fees that Finance Committee agreed on September 22. Myself and the GSU President argued against such a draconian increase at every turn, unfortunately to no avail. This increase will be extremely challenging to our postgrad students, particularly those without access to grant funding. It cannot be acceptable to bail college out of its deficit on the backs of students – we are just not a commercial entity, our students are not customers, we are a learning institution. That should not be forgotten.”
The minutes noted the position of the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) in relation to the fee increase. Speaking to Trinity News, Dean of Graduate Studies Neville Cox said: “I can understand the financial necessities of the university…It operates under severe financial restraint and needs to generate revenue but my greatest concern is a lack of investment…and multi-year students.”
While the state decides the level of EU fees, College is at the liberty of setting non-EU fees. A fees increase of 3% for postgraduate students were approved for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years. A four per cent increase was implemented the year before this. The proposed increase for 2018/19 is thought to be higher than the 3% increase approved in preceding years.
An M.Phil in European Studies at Trinity currently costs a total of €6,738 for EU students, and €14,088 for non-EU students. An MBA from the School of Business costs as much as €32,263 for both EU and non-EU students.
According to the most recent Senior Lecturer’s Annual Report, there were 2,185 non-EU students in 2015/16 across both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. There is a total of 4,769 postgraduate students in Trinity.
College did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Additional reporting by Rory O’Neill and Michael Foley