A mass demonstration organized by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is set to take place in Dublin next month, the College Tribune has learned.

The organization is launching a national “Freeze the Fees, Save the Grant” campaign in reaction to speculation that the registration fee may increase to €5,000 in December’s budget. The campaign will include a protest march in Dublin on Wednesday November 16th.

“November 16th should be a completely peaceful protest. USI and indeed students’ unions across the country will do whatever it take to ensure that education is protected in the budget” USI President Gary Redmond said.

Mr Redmond said that if fees rose to €5,000 “tens of thousands” of students would not be able to return to college next September.

“We may ultimately have some other form of large scale action on the 16th as well as the march,” he added, “USI isn’t ruling anything out.

UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Vice President Brendan Lacey echoed Redmond: “We are not ruling anything out and we know that we have to be more aggressive this year. There is a lot of anger out there and we have to capitalize on it, but in a safe and controlled manner.”

“We do think the campaign needs to be a lot more in their [the Government’s] face this year,” he added.

The demonstration will begin after 3pm on November 16th in order to allow students coming from different parts of the country sufficient time to travel to the capital. Mr Redmond hopes that 5th and 6th year secondary school students will also attend.

The protest may clash with rush hour traffic and could run the risk of bringing the city centre to a standstill. “I think that would obviously be part of getting out message out there as well” Mr Redmond said.

The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has refused to rule out the possibility of an increase in the student contribution. Speaking to the College Tribune he said,”There isn’t a single item of expenditure across the country that isn’t going to be affected in some way or other’ in December’s budget.”

“The USI has to do what it feels it has to do” the Minister responded when questioned as regards how he would respond to any form of mass demonstration.

 

Donie O’Sullivan 

[email protected]

 

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17 thoughts on “Exclusive: Students will march for Freeze in Fees”

  1. Freeze fees?

    I thought USI believed in free education. It’s supposed to campaign against fees in any form.

    Essentially this amounts to a policy change – USI no longer campaigns for free education.

    1. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a big fan of students’ unions but I think you’re getting a little ott there.

      It’s quite clear that there’s no way we’re going to get away with free fees at this stage, not when every other sector is taking cuts.

      Damage limitation isn’t a bad policy.

      1. USI policy is to campaign for free education, and against fees in all forms.

        If USI want to change that policy, they should hold referenda in the constituent organisations, and let the membership decide.

        Lets face it – USI has effectively dropped the campaign for free education. They are actively campaign on the basis that students should pay €2,000 to go to college.

        As for the potential €5,000 – it’s a tactic that’s been used almost every time they hike the reg fee/student contribution.

        Here’s the standard kite-flying strategy:

        The government & USI float an enormous figures in the media, to friends, online etc.

        Fees are increased (to about half of the floated figure).

        USI then claims this as a victory – their campaigning has been successful in reducing the prosposed hike (although fees have increased, and students are worse off).

        It also allows the junior party in government (Labour, lke the Greens before them), to claim that they did all they could – that the hike would have been even worse if they weren’t in coalition with a big nasty party like FG or FF.

        Everyones a winner – USI and the government – except students who actually have to pay the fee.

  2. 5,000 euro fees ! If that comes in i’ll either have to drop out of college or bankrupt my family to pay for it. I voted Labour precisely so that fees would NOT go up. Then the second they got into government they broke every single promise they made. Proves all they care about is getting power by whatever means, even if this encludes blatant lying

  3. Where is the speculation coming from about the €5000? A rise of that amount in one year would seem highly implausible, especially as Ruairi Quinn is Minister and Labour TDs are required to vote for such an increase.

    1. Mark, the €5000 figure comes from an article in the Irish Independent during the week. Although the Independent did not quote a government member, the USI told us that their own sources within government have said that a dramatic increase could occur. Donie.

      1. Was it this article http://www.independent.ie/education/features/as-standards-tumble-are-college-fees-a-certainty-2902853.html ??

        Because the only reference properly to €5000 there is “One senior university manager told the Irish Independent that fees of around €5,000 a year were needed to put universities on a sound footing.” That’s a statement from a university “manager”, not someone in Government……. Is this figure just a way to allow an increase to €3000 to be shown as a victory??

        1. That is the article. €5,000 is the figure the Students’ Union in UCD and the USI have told us.

          1. So they have just plucked the €5000 figure from the air, then?

            I entirely agree with the above comments from Gary. Fees will not go up to €5000, this is only a tactic. It is inevitable that fees will be increased in the upcoming budget and USI and various larger SU’s across the country will claim that they have been victorious in defeating the potential €5000 sum. USI and UCDSU have been quite irrelevant and have played an almost nonexisting role in the government’s decision to hike up the reg fee.

  4. The €5000 figure is complete nonsense, it is being spun by USI to build up an anticpation that the fee incrase will be bigger than it is, so it looks like USI have secured a victory when the increase is to €2500. They used the same trick last year when they claimed that a 3000 registration fee was on the way in, which in the end turned out to be a an increase to 2000. USI are masters at spin and self promotion but not in standing up for their members.

  5. What an appalling prospect for students and their families. We have the absolute scandal in this country, of a Labour party who have betrayed their values and their convictions in order to prop up Fianna Fail mark 2.

    James Connolly would be turning in his grave, what a shambolic shower of IMF collaborators his party have become, shame on Ruari Quinn and Eamon Gilmore. It is of course very important that students know this. IF fees are increased, we will not see one cent of this increased revenue pumped into our universities, the reason the government needs your money is to pay off the banking debt THEY created. They are masquerading behind a concept that universities are underfunded, they are underfunded because the government is squandering money on banks.

  6. Is it a co-incidence that Brendan Lacey and Gary Redmond are going gung ho against fees, because the party that they hold membership of- Fianna Fail is no longer in government.

      1. Gary Redmond is currently not a member of Fiaana Fail as he understands what the implications are to his position in the student “movement.”
        He has however, held membership of FF, and retains the FF mentality.

        1. Redmond appeared in ‘that’ infamous photo – but he claims that he has never actually been a member of Fianna Fail, and that FF would confirm this.

          You can hear him state this in an audio interview available at – http://www.studentnews.ie/my-discussion-with-gary-redmond-1835

          While conducting research for an article, Phoenix magazine contacted both FF and Ogra FF in UCD to see if Redmond had been member, but found no proof – http://free-education.info/phoenix-article-on-usi-president-gary-redmond/

          If you have evidence to the contrary, you should send it to this site.

          As for the FF mentality, I agree entirely.

  7. I’m pointing out that what you said is factually incorrect – you stated that Redmond is a member of Fianna Fail, he is not.

    It’s clear that his general politics are not too far from Fianna Fail, but you can either criticize him on the basis of things he has done & said (rational argument), or criticize him on the basis of something which is entirely false (irrational, straw man argument).

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