'Loans would help parents, and put onus on students'
UCD student Aoife Hardesty thinks that the option of student loans proposed by the Cassells report is a feasible one.
Aoife (21) receives a SUSI grant, which covers half her fees, but her parents still struggle to pay for her college costs every year. She thinks that a loan system, while more expensive, would make it easier for families.
"I think it's certainly a much fairer option in that it makes it easier for people to actually afford it, for people who aren't entitled to grants," she says.
"It would certainly take the pressure off parents and it would put the onus on the students themselves. You'd have to have a system in place where people weren't having huge chunks taken out of their pay cheques, but it might help people take a bit more responsibility for their own education."
The fourth-year neuroscience student from Co Kilkenny says applying for SUSI causes a lot of strain, which the loan system could remove: "I think there's a lot of pressure even applying to SUSI and getting your grant, it's a worry every year."
Aoife says the Government should ideally fund third-level education but accepts that "that's not the reality".
Instead, she thinks that companies who profit from Ireland's educated workforce should foot part of the bill.
"A universal charge on companies in Ireland who are benefiting from our workforce would certainly take the pressure off using entirely Government spending towards it," she says.