25 Jan, 2009
Tuition Fees may be inevitable….and what would be the harm?
When Batt O’Keefe first moved into Marlborough Street his people took a long hard look at how the department was funded. It is obvious that the Government had in it’s sights root and branch funding reforms in certain departments for some time. Moving Hanafin may not just have been a political neccesity it may well have been a budgetary one as well.
The now infamous Economist Nouriel Roubini, the man who predicted the worlds current economic crisis with such frightening accuracy has warned that Student Loan Schemes will be amongst the next casulties of the economic downturn.
In Weekend (24/01/09), The Guardians Saturday Magazine, he outlined his predictions for round 2 of the economic enslaught. Roubini forsees that:
“More hedge funds will go bust, but the trickledown hasn’t even begin to be felt yet. The losses now are mostly in mortgages; wait until it hits commercial real estate, the credit card companies, the auto loans, the student loans, the corporate bonds.”
With no end to the credit crunch in sight, despite us all becoming bankers over night, any model introducing a Student Loan Scheme would seem to be unwise. However with the credit drought how many students will be able to afford, or will even be able to get, a loan to pay fees as a state loan scheme would be unwise? Of course this would only apply to those who just pass the threshold by the nose – with their parents required to be earning a reported €100,000-€120,000 before being required to pay. What will these aspiring students do? Get a job I’d imagine. Work like rest of us through college. Replace the silverspoon with a Golden Arches Headset.
The shock many of these teens will experience as these young trustafarians are forced to spend their hard anticipated nest eggs on their education instead of 3 months in Austrailia will be grounding to say the least.
With O’Keefe bringing forward proposals before the spring USI, FEE and Labour Youth are on borrowered time. The mass student protest planned for February may do little to change the minds of the Government. The Green Party who gave a commitment to USI in the General Election to keep Tuition Fees of the agenda may be the ones who could potentially ground fees to a halt. Free education is a pillar for many Green Party members. I wonder which appetite is more insashiable- a hunger for free education or power?
Either way the current world financial crisis is impacting our educational institutions with sponsorship and R&D budgets slowly drying up and with the prospects of Ireland experiencing another Brain Drain how can our third level institutions continue to be competitive on the world stage while their funding is monotone and the screams of the University heads for the government, students, industry and the opposition to see sense to fall on deaf ears.