Students say “Feck Fees”


On October 22nd, in the biggest show of student strength in many years, over 15,000 third level students marched through the streets of Dublin. They were united in their opposition to the Budget’s 67% College Registration Fee increase and Minister for Education, Batt O’Keefe’s threat to bring back full college fees by September 2009. Last month, he announced that the return of fees would raise €530 million in revenue at a family income threshold of €120,000. To his embarrassment, he later had to admit that these figures were wrong and that in fact the maximum revenue would be only €130 million.


Our Minister for Education then stated that the plan to introduce an Australian style loan system in Ireland was a “constructive contribution” to the debate on tuition charges. This is the same system that Australia’s Education Minister Julia Gillard has called “… anomalous, inconsistent and irrational” and where average loan repayments have reached a staggering €40,000 per student. Australia’s total debt for this college loan system is growing by €1.6 billion a year and is predicted to reach €14 billion by 2008-2009.

WSM members who are working or studying in University College Dublin (UCD.) have been involved in the setting up of a campaign group called Free Education for Everyone (FEE). This group is committed to opposing the reintroduction of college fees in any form and in favour of extending and increasing the grant system to reflect the cost of living. We believe that education should be a right not a privilege and support funding education through a progressive taxation system where higher income earners and owners of capital pay a disproportionately higher tax. On average, OECD countries spend 6.2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. In 1995, Ireland spent 5.2%. In 2008, it dropped to 4.6%.

FEE called for a demonstration against the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan’s visit on October 20th to UCD under the title of “if you block our education, we’ll block yours”. Over 150 students came out to “blockade the budget slasher”. Garda overreaction led to three arrests after a sit - down protest. All of the individuals were released with a caution. F.E.E is in the process of building branches in colleges all over Dublin, hoping to then spread across Ireland.

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From Workers Solidarity 106, Nov 2008

Northern Issue Southern Issue

Click on one of the thumbnails for an PDF version of the northern or southern edition of Workers Solidarity 106 which can be printed out on eight A4 pages.