Third Level Fees – Fine Gael – 33% of course cost

The Fine Gael position on third level funding is as follows:

• A deferred contribution from students, payable upon graduation when they reach a defined income threshold.
• The total contribution will be a third of the cost of their course (this could be in the region of €11,000 for an Arts degree)
• This will be paid by new entrants to publicly funded third level institutions when the new funding model is introduced.
• We will not increase the student registration fee further. Instead, we will pursue greater pay and non-pay efficiencies in the third level system through greater flexibility in working arrangements, in line with the Croke Park Agreement.
• As the student contribution model begins to return funds to the third level sector, we will phase out the student registration fee as an upfront charge.
• In the intervening period, we will establish a subsidised loan system for students and their families that are struggling to pay the student registration fee.
• Fine Gael has proposed a new system for administering grants; through the Payments and Entitlements Service – this will deliver grants quicker and more efficiently to students.

Other parties may suggest they are providing students with ‘free’ education but this is misleading. The reality is that at current funding levels, quality will be compromised and students will not receive the education they need or deserve to compete in the workplace. The Labour Party’s policy of reversing the student services charge will lead to either higher taxes or cuts to primary and second level funding – there is no other way.

Students have already been hit by the reintroduction of fees by the back door, by Fianna Fáil. We see upfront fees as a deterrent for people hoping to go to third level – our system is fairer – by gradually moving to a contribution paid after graduation, when a student reaches an income threshold and can afford to make a contribution, we can ensure that students are able to participate at third level.

With regard to graduate unemployment, Fine Gael is the only party with a real plan to tackle the problem of graduate unemployment and emigration through our Five Point Plan for Recovery. We will provide young people with opportunities to stay and work in Ireland.