Student Fees: It’s Complicated

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Writer and broadcaster Eamon Delaney (top) and President of the Union of Students in Ireland John Logue (above) spoke with Pat Kenny on RTE R1 this morning about student fees.

And how they fit in with academics’ salaries.

Bonus feature: Extravagantly-paid publec servant Elephant in studio.

Eamon Delaney: “Apart from being a grumpy old man, I’ve tremendous sympathy for where students are and I’ll come to the further aspect of what the USI are doing in terms of reopening the Croke Park deal in a minute, which I think is very laudable. But, no, no, I’ve tremendous sympathy. It’s just all of this is costing us money. It’s true that it’s an investment but you know, when you’re broke, as an individual, you’re not going to invest in a share, you’re not going to invest in a bank account, we just simply do not have the money to put into the education sector what we used to. And there has to be…you know, if you think that, mainly speaking, third-level students come from, let’s say a middle class, in its broadest sense then there is money there to send kids to college, they have to be prepared to pay for it rather than the State having to underwrite that all the time.”

John Logue: “Well, I mean, look I can really appreciate the argument that we’re dealing with a financial situation and we have to be frugal with our public monies. However in my estimation, there are a number of ways that we can still maintain a fairly accessible system of higher education without having to task families with coming up with huge amounts of money just by changing the way we actually allocate the funding resources in higher education. We have..and I will discuss the Croke Park Agreement, I’m not afraid to do so. If we took 2% out of the higher education pay budget we would not have the increase in the student contribution that the Labour/Fine Gael government want to implement in this budget. That would save €70million. The increase in the student contribution would save €18.5 (million) so it virtually negates itself. I seriously think we need to look at those who are earning higher pay in higher education sector. It’s a known fact that academics in this country earn 30% more than their counterparts in the UK. They aren’t any more productive, they aren’t putting in more hours and I think it’s something that seriously needs to be addressed and this Government continues to hide under the veils of the Croke Park Agreement.”

Delaney: “Absolutely true. And I mean very, very bravely of the USI, effectively, the USI has led the way twice on this in seeking to have Croke Park reopened on that. I mean it’s absolutely disgraceful, the level of salaries for vice-presidents and presidents of the universities. The minister has asked them to take a pay cut , they’ve blithely refused or have gone on a go-slow on it. Look at what’s happening at our universities. There is less teaching time, it’s actually less productive than in the UK or Europe. There are these higher salaries. When there was talk of them being touched there was, the bedrock of academic freedom was invoked. Oh that was to do with permanence, I think, of the teaching staff or the lecturers and who’s suffering for this? The students, you know? So, on this, I am very sympathetic. But again, it’s like so much in this country. It’s like the rest of the public service, or the civil service, the upper ends get completely over funded, over renumerated and, at the coalface, the services are being shredded and made inefficient.”

Kenny: “The elephant in the room I suppose is some form of loan scheme for students…”

*cough*

Listen here

Pics via Magill and University Observer