Trinity Students' Union is committed to campaigning on behalf of its members to improve the third-level education system in Ireland and fighting for a better Trinity.
The fees campaign has been a national highlight in recent years but the SU has been conducting vital campaigns on things such as student grants and nursing placements as well.
Besides the national issues, we campaign locally on issues that affect Trinity students like access to services, improving library services and maintaining teaching standards.
Student Services Charge Campaign
The Student Contribution Charge (also known as the Registration Fee) was introduced in 1996 following the Government's abolition of tuition fees. It was intended that while we would pay for student services (societies, sports clubs, etc) the Government would pay for everything else. Although it was only £250 when it was introduced it now stands at €2,000 after years of huge increases.
The Registration Fee has been renamed to reflect the fact that colleges have admitted it is used to pay for tuition. From 2009 to 2011 the fee jumped from €900 to €2,000, meanwhile the government cut the core grant it pays to college in lieu of fees by the same amount per student. This rising fee continues to create barriers to preventing people from entering third level
So what's next?
To date no government anywhere in the world has come up with a workable solution to what our government calls 'the fees question'. There are many different systems in use elsewhere in the world, however not only are they ineffective but most are not financially viable for Ireland in the current economic climate. The government are not clear on what their plans are for this year, but we are very clear on ours; we will campaign to keep third level education accessible for all and not be compromised by shortsighted government action.
Getting the Student Support Bill signed into law was a massive win for students last year, but the campaign continues.
Higher education maintenance grants are awarded to Irish students whose family income is below a certain threshold. The grants are awarded by the students' local authorities and from next year will be awarded by a central body in Dublin. (CDVEC will administer all grants from 2012/13.)
Fixing a broken system
Administration: The campaign has been successful in ensuring most of the administration problems will disappear from next year when the Student Support Bill comes into full effect. But this year we will have to fight to ensure grants are delivered in a timely manner.
Change in criteria: The most cutting recent changes were the changes to entitlements for thousands of students. Most mature students and all students whose home address is between 24km and 45km face cuts of over 60% in their grants this year. SUs across the country are challenging the government over these changes and will be in court on the 7th October 2011.
Amount: The grant simply does not suffice to cover the cost of student living. For example, a grant for the student living away from home barely covers the cost of accommodation. The Maintenance Grant was cut in the 2009 Budget and again in the 2010 Budget.
The Labour party have not delivered on pre-election promises to protect vulnerable students from grant cuts and now thousands of students are face with the prospect of being forced to drop out of college.
We have to make sure that Ireland remains a smart, knowledge based economy and this year your support will be crucial to stop the government from jeopardising this.