Plan for watchdog with power to fix student fees
A regulatory authority with powers to control student fee levels is under consideration, as part of wider moves on third-level funding reform
The idea is being examined by an expert group, set up to advise on approaches to meeting the soaring cost of higher education. It estimates these costs will spiral from €2bn a year to €3n over the next decade or so.
A key message from the Expert Group on Future Funding of Higher Education is that everyone who benefits from higher education should contribute more - including taxpayers, employers and students.
One option emerging from the group's deliberations in relation to the student contribution is a 'study, now pay later', Government-backed student loans scheme.
A consultation document from the group highlights an advantage of such a system as removing upfront fees.
But graduates would have to reimburse the State over a period, once their income hit a certain level.
Such a scheme could also be used to cover wider costs of going to college, as is happening in other countries where, increasingly, it is linked to changes in the maintenance grants system.
The introduction of a deferred payment system would make it easier to push up fees, potentially leaving graduates with ever higher debts.
Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president, Kevin Donoghue said they were opposed to student loans, which could overwhelm graduates in debt.