STUDENTS protested against cutbacks in the grounds of the Department of Education in Dublin yesterday -- while more than 5,000 marched through the streets of Cork.
The demonstrators said third-level education in Ireland was now threatening to become the elite preserve of the wealthy because of rising fees and cuts in grants.
A 50-strong group of students yesterday set up a marquee in the grounds of the Department of Education for a 'surprise conference' on the future of the country's education system.
The so-called flash mob erected the marquee on the grounds of the offices on Marlborough Street in Dublin city centre for a debate on third-level reform and fees.
A €500 increase in college registration charges -- to €2,000 -- next year is the first step on the road back to fees.
At the Cork rally, Union of Students of Ireland president Gary Redmond warned that many students were already struggling to cope.
"Students have already taken their fair share of the pain," he added. "We need to allow access to college for everybody."