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Awkward Tea Sipping

Opinion Article published In UCD’s Observer Newspaper November 2014

To fee or not to fee, that is the question.

With the possible re-introduction of third level fees on the horizon, Deirdre Dunne examines how Ireland’s approach compares to that of other countries.

Minister Ruairi Quinn has not ruled out the possibility of reintroducing third level fees in the near future. This has lead to widespread restlessness among current and impending students. What way does our third level education system operate presently and why does it need to be altered at all?
Universities in Ireland are state-funded, but otherwise are generally independent. Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third level courses in Ireland therefore, do not have to pay tuition fees. Under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative, the Department of Education and Skills pay the fees to the colleges. Professor Ger Casey of UCD argues that our third level education system should not be referred to as “free” however given that undergraduates do hand over a sum of money to register for their third level courses every year. Who is this money paid to, if it is not paid to the government and what is it used for?

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