Publicly funded higher education is not an aspiration, it’s a necessity

Labour Youth has reiterated its call for state funded higher education following the publication of the Cassells Report today presenting options for funding higher education.

Labour Youth National Chairperson Grace Williams commented: “We welcome the inclusion of publicly funded higher education as an option within the Cassells Report. However, it is crucial that this option is considered as the only practical, long-term solution for higher education funding and not as an aspiration only for high-tax, Nordic countries.

“In deciding a funding model for higher education from the options provided, the barriers which fees and loan systems present cannot be overlooked. A deferred payment loan scheme, which is being proposed, would be disastrous for Ireland. We have seen the negative effects of these loan schemes in the UK, with fee increases responding accordingly; in America with a consistently decreasing number of those attending higher education; and in Australia where large debt allowances and high repayment thresholds have created a demand-driven system education system, adding millions to the national debt. We cannot see this replicated in Ireland.

“The current system in Ireland is also simply not good enough. Ireland has some of the highest fees for higher education in Europe, coming second only after the UK. Most European countries have free higher education. These are countries similar to our own. If publicly funded education is aspirational, unsustainable, and unaffordable, why do many other European countries offer it?

“We must recognise the important role that education plays in social mobility and acknowledge how these barriers to education prevent all people being able to access this from an equal platform. We must view education as a public service. It should not be a good that is sold to the highest bidder; it must be accessible by all. We must introduce publicly funded education.”

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