Earlier today, the Union of Students Ireland (USI) issued a press release outlining the plans for three protests to take place on November 22, 23, and 24 in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
These USI organised protests, called the ‘the Cost of College campaign’ will be held in opposition to the growing cost of higher education in Ireland.
They’ve noted that the cost of college fees in Ireland currently stands as the most expensive of those in EU member states. Despite hopes amongst third level bodies that Budget 2022 would see a decrease in the student contribution charge, there was none.
In the press release, USI stated that recent research shows that getting through a four year degree in Ireland now costs students and their families over €50,000 on average.
Mentioned also was the Government’s refusal to address the student accommodation crisis in the recent budget.
The press release also detailed that the Cost of College campaign will involve two sub-campaigns under the names ‘No Keys, No Degrees campaign’ and ‘F*ck the Fees campaign’. The protests are to be held on November 22, 23 and 24 in Dublin, Cork and Galway city centres at 2pm.
USI president Clare Austick was quoted as saying: “Students have been angry for some time about the huge cost of getting a higher education in Ireland. But coming out of COVID-19, students are nothing short of outraged.”
Continuing, she said: “USI, [students unions] and students across the island feel that students were scapegoated and their sacrifices diminished, throughout the pandemic.”
She also stated that the student accommodation crisis is “quite possibly the worst it has ever been”, asserting that this is due to “both a lack of affordable accommodation post [Covid-19] and the lack of investment in affordable Purpose-Built Student Accommodation”.
The USI have stated that the main demands of the Cost of College campaign include the abolition of the €3,000 student contribution charge, the reform of the SUSI grant system, and the funding and a plan to develop more affordable Purpose-Built Student Accommodation.
Also, mentioned their demands also is the need for legislation and other necessary action in order to retain accommodation beds as well as putting an end to rent controls.
USI Vice President for Campaigns, Beth O’Reilly has stated that these three protests “are a chance for students to get out and show the level of anger and frustration they are feeling”.
She also announced that “ahead of the protests, USI will travel around the country with a Cost of College Roadshow” to “talk to students on the ground about the campaign and ensure their stories and views are represented in the actions”.