Universities and institutes split on student fees
Universities and institutes of technology are divided on the thorny issue of student fees.
University presidents have backed a study now, pay later, student loan scheme, with fees rising to €4,000-€5,000.
But institutes of technology said there should be no fees at all for students on ordinary degree and higher certificate courses, known as Level 7/6. However, the institutes say fees "may be appropriate" for students on honours degree courses, known as Level 8.
Overwhelmingly, Level 7/6 courses are provided by institutes of technology. At the core of the institutes' argument is that their students tend to come from less well-off backgrounds.
They made their cases at the Oireachtas Education Committee, discussing the Cassells Report on future funding for higher education.
Professor Don Barry, chair of the Irish Universities Association said that high fees, such as those in the UK or the US, were not acceptable, whether paid upfront or under a loan scheme.
But, regardless of the level of the charge, there were arguments in favour of deferred payment, which avoided pressures on families to pay up front.
Prof Ciaran O'Cathain, chair of the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), suggested a variation in the Cassells options with no fees at all for Level 7/6 courses.
But, a student contribution may be appropriate for Level 8 courses, because of the greater costs involved and the benefit to individuals the further they progressed in higher education, he said.