Gavan Reilly

thinking out loud

Note to Brian Hayes:

with 3 comments

The “Australian Model” of college payment – where the Government lends you your fees, and you pay them back once you reach an income threshold, is NOT a fee-free scheme, despite what you might have insisted on Pat Kenny’s radio show yesterday.

I wasn’t one of the 15,000 out on the streets today – academia saw to that – but being from a family that has taken two major pay cuts in the last twelve months, and with a little brother 18 months from college, fees will see him probably attending a university in Scotland – and maybe not coming back.

The Brain Drain is back, people. And it’s not my generation’s fault.

Written by Gav

February 4th, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Education

Tagged with ,

3 Responses to 'Note to Brian Hayes:'

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  1. I agree.

    A similar system is enacted in the UK. Either way – young people are becoming the new immigrants again.

    Nev Farrell

    4 Feb 09 at 11:30 pm

  2. Which generation’s fault is it then?

    We’ve all got to take a hit. You can’t just say “I didn’t do it, I’m not paying” when nobody did it other than a small percentage of bankers and politicians. You can hardly ask Bertie/Brian and Seanie Fitz to cough up €2bn between, even though they’re the ones who are really at fault.

    I’m a student and don’t support the free fees system currently in operation. It’s not good for anybody. The colleges and uni’s themselves have been chronically under-financed since government funding failed to match inflation after the free-fees system was introduced, it’s not good for them.

    The average student doesn’t get the same facilities made available to them because the institute can’t afford it. What version of Quark/InDesign does you college operate? Mine runs Quark 6, the newest version is Quark 8 – I’m working with a college in Zambia who have better systems than the ones I use. The Zambians can hardly even type but they’re better resourced than their Irish counterparts, if I paid fees it would go towards upgrading Quark and the likes.

    Adam Maguire works in Colaiste Dhulaigh and just tweeted today that the library in there will be closing for a considerable period of its current opening hours from today onwards, cost-cutting measures. Good for students?

    The students who should be getting grants are getting less grant aid than they should be because the students who can afford to pay aren’t contributing to the kitty. I probably would be on a grant if the old system was in place, my family is far from broke, my Dad is a public servant and my mother has a secure job but we’re not rolling in it these days. There’s been days when I’ve walked to college, Blanch to Ballyfermot and back because I didn’t have the bus fare and wasn’t going to ask my parents for it. I should have grant money for that, so should a lot of people.

    The students who could afford to pay are driving to college in Mini Coopers and new Volkwagan Golfs. Wheres the equality in that? Show me one college or uni in the country without a parking problem. If you can afford a car you can afford to pay some semblance of fees.

    The free fees system was stupid in the first place, a vote grabber that pandered to the middle and upper classes, who could afford to spent little Johnny to college, at least with a partial grant aid before. The grants that their fees had been funding was then cut to save costs when inflation didn’t match funding (surprise surprise, like we didn’t see that one coming) and who suffered? The students who should of been grants but were cut out of the grant system when the requirements for a grant went down (i.e. you had be from a family that was paid less to get a grant because there was less in the grant aid coffers).

    There’s a guy in my college who is 26 and came back to college last year to study Creative Design and Digital Multimedia. He was on a back-to-education grant, his girlfriend just had a child. He gets the bus to college everyday and his grant has just been pulled because the requirements changed and it turns out now that he “earned to much” in the last few years (was a labourer on building sites) and no longer qualifies. Is that fair and right while Julie from Foxrock whose Dad is on the board of the very bank who fucked us all over is driving into Trinners in her customised Mini? Fair? Bullshit.

    For the record, this isn’t against you personally. From the few moments I’ve spent speaking with you you seem like a really great, intelligent bloke with a great future, it’s against the whole “No Fees” idea in general. The idea behind introducing “free fees” was short-sighted in the first place, the idea that fees should not be re-introduced again is just as short-sighted and dare I say it, selfish of todays students. We should cough up the same way that everyone else in the country will – difference is students will probably benefit in the long-run.

    I don’t agree with the Australian model either but students should pay in some way. Whether on a sliding scale, a percentage of their and their parents income or some other way. This free fee system will get us no where.


    5 Feb 09 at 12:31 am

  3. Mark – I know this reply is long, long overdue but I’ve only just got to catching up with my Google Reader and spotted your post on it which has spurred me to finally getting back to you.

    First of all, I completely agree that everyone has to take a hit when times get tough, and that nobody should get to wash their hands from responsibility. The point is that those who triggered the problems that Ireland has today should be the ones who take the biggest hit, and everyone else should make contributions equal to each other but less than those who ought to. Sadly, those who ought to be doing the bulk of the repayments are not just the bankers who gave out more than their own assets could bear, but also those in the mid- to upper-classes of Irish society who saw fit to borrow, borrow and borrow again, borrowing money that other Europeans (mostly Germans) had got saved away never to be touched, never thinking that circumstances might arise where they couldn’t make their repayment. To lob income levies and “pension levies” (what’s pensionable about them? it’s not like they get the money back when they retire, the Government didn’t contribute to their pensions anyway) onto the same classes is probably a reasonably fair way of doing it, but the wealth that’s been taken from these people is exactly the same wealth that would have been covering tuition fees if they were reintroduced. The losers in that case wouldn’t be the middle classes but their children, who then face the same problems going to college that everyone else laments.

    That aside, what many people (not including yourself in this) seem not to be able to fathom is that reintroducing third-level fees isn’t going to magically make colleges richer. In reality, without the creation of funding from elsewhere, it’s going to make colleges poorer. Currently a college gets its tuition fees in one enormous lump from the HEA, happy days. If tuition fees are reintroduced, colleges will get drips and drabs of tuition fees from each student, many of whom will default on fees and others who will ultimately end up dropping out because of the expense, meaning that they’ll have gotten some college education without paying for it, thus keeping out another potential fee-payer and meaning a college’s resources are spread even thinner. The end result is that the colleges have a more turbulent cash supply, less than that they get as fees from the HEA currently. And can anyone honestly say that the Government would spend the savings by ploughing them back into further education as an investment? As if. Not these days – the Government would much rather keep it on hand in case another bank needs a short-notice bailout. (Not to say that that wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavour, but my point is that we can’t expect at all that the money saved would be reinvested.)

    Of course some people can afford to pay fees. That’ll always be the way. There’ll always be a degree of richer-than-thou, of those who can drive to college, and so on. This is the nature of living in a free market economy and reintroducing fees isn’t going to get rid of it. Of course it’s not fair that the richest can get away with it. But surely that’s a better situation than the reintroduction of fees where your 26-year-old classmate on a BTEA couldn’t afford to come to college whatsoever? Then not only is his livelihood thrown into doubt but the long-term wellbeing of his baby daughter is compromised immeasurably due to his decreased earning power.

    I understand your gripes – I’m from similar circumstances, public servant and former-self-employed-plumber (until the money dried up and he had to take a “day job” to ensure a cash flow); we’re not poor but things aren’t easy either, and I’ve been walking to college to make sure I can afford a sandwich – and I can see your points. Some of it isn’t fair. But then again, what is? You have some salient points about FE funding but surely now isn’t the time to do it – not when the poorest can least afford to shoulder the burden of fees. Grants aren’t going to be fixed in this climate – if they were, the Student Support Bill would be long passed, instead of gathering dust on a shelf somewhere after USI had worked for years to have it published. Bringing back fees won’t result in additional funding for HEIs or better grants. Maybe it would some other time, but not right now. Fees right now just mean fewer people can go, colleges will get less money to work with, and the country is the lesser for it.

    (Incidentally, just to answer your other question, UCD doesn’t have any media courses so there isn’t any Quark or InDesign. The University Observer has its own computers which I think have InDesign CS2 but they were paid for with a grant they got from the profits in the UCD bars which are retained for such stuff.)


    14 Mar 09 at 9:32 pm

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