SU and GSU to hold town hall meeting on proposed new student fees

news1Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Graduate Students’ Union are to hold a town hall meeting tomorrow to gauge the opinion of the student body on proposed new student charges.

The six proposed charges consist of an increase in the commencement fee from €114 to €135, a €75 fee for diploma and certificate awards ceremonies, an increased postgraduate application fee from €35 to €50, a rise in the cost of a new student card from €6 to €20, a standard price of €100 for duplicate degree parchments (currently €116) and duplicate diploma parchments (currently €20) and “a flat fee of €250 for students sitting supplemental exams, regardless of how many papers are re-taken.”

The additional charges were first presented to last year’s sabbatical officers at a meeting of the college Finance Committee in June 2014. The reason given for the charges was “budgetary pressure.” Following objections from the SU and Graduate Students Union (GSU) to the proposals, College decided to “defer” negotiations on the charges until the 2014/15 academic year.

In December 2014, McGlacken Byrne and other sabbatical officers of the SU and GSU circulated a memo to college authorities outlining their ten objections to the charges and demanding sufficient time for broader consultation of students and staff before any measures be formalized.

Among their arguments were that the new charges were not included in the sources of income identified by College for the next five years, that introduction of the charges sets “an intolerable precedent” and that the revenue that would be generated by the charges “is of a magnitude comparable to major financial strategies in which major amounts of time and discussion have been invested.”

They also objected to College’s use of comparisons to other third level institutions in “justification” of the charges as “selective” and irrelevant. They stated that the absence of a system of means-testing for the charges “constitutes a glaring deviation from Trinity’s stated commitment to equity of access to education” and that the “stabilisation” of the Academic Registry is of critical importance and needs to take place before students are charged more for their engagements with it.

Speaking to Trinity News, McGlacken Byrne said that at the town hall meeting “all options” will be explored: “Should charges be opposed out of hand, not just in and of themselves, but because of what they represent? Or is it more reasonable and realistic to look for a compromise… [such as] means-testing the charges, or having a per-exam charge rather than a flat irrespective penalty?”

The meeting will take place at 6pm tomorrow in the Mháirtín Uí Chadhain Theatre.

Updated, 28/1, 9:40.