Over 2,000 Trinity students have signed a students’ union petition calling for a reduction to the annual contribution charge.
2,400 students have signed the petition from Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) which is calling on the government to reduce the student contribution charge of €3,000.
The petition, which was launched in December, is directed at Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Provost Patrick Prendergast.
In an email to students today, TCDSU said that 2,400 signatures was “not enough” and that thousands more were needed for the petition to be impactful.
The petition is demanding action from the government to lower the cost of higher education.
“Higher education urgently needs significant government funding, but instead, funding has continuously declined while class sizes in HEI’s continue to increase disproportionate to recommended student/staff ratios. All of these issues were prevalent long before the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were felt on the higher education system,” the petition says.
“You, the students of 2020 have been through enough. You have endured worsening conditions in the Higher Education Sector as well as grappling with the impact of a global pandemic. You deserve more,” it says.
“Our politicians might be listening, our Minister might recognise the Student Contribution Charge is “too high” and our Taoiseach might recognise the importance of funding Higher Education, but recognition is not enough.”
The Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) has been calling for a €500 reduction in the student contribution charge through a series of campaigns over the last several years.
However, the charge has not been altered since it was set at €3,000 in 2014.
A €500 reduction would cost the government around €39.3 million.
Ireland now has the highest student contribution charge of any country in the European Union following the UK’s split from the bloc.
In November, TCDSU Council mandated the union to establish a petition to the provost and higher education minister, as well as to lobby Dublin TDs for a reduction in the charge.
Proposing a motion on the campaign at Council, Senior Fresh Physical Sciences class representative Dillon Broaders said it was “immoral” that students continued to be charged the same amount of fees during Covid-19 and that many were experiencing “worsening financial difficulties”.
The fees Trinity charges to students include tuition fees, the student contribution charge, and other student charges and levies.
Most EU students are eligible for the Free Fees Initiative, under which tuition fees are paid for by the government. They instead pay a student contribution charge of €3,000 per year.
Tuition fees vary by course and the student’s EU status. For 2020/21, tuition fees for undergraduate EU students range from around €2,681 for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) courses to €5,371 for some Health Sciences (HS) courses.
Students from non-EU countries are charged higher tuition fees, ranging from around €18,000 and €26,000 for undergraduates, depending on their course.