Tóibín: Who is in Charge of Third Level Fees?
Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has queried who is making the decisions about Higher Education in the government – is it Simon Harris, or is it Norma Foley?
An Teachta Tóibín stated; Simon Harris is Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. If he does not control the budget and the funding of the central element of his Department what is the point of his senior Ministry”.
“We have almost 200,000 students being told by Norma Foley the FF Minister that they must pay full fees despite a likely reduction in educational engagement this year. At the same time we have a FG Minister who has stated that the fees are too high. Two Ministers, one subject, the FF Minister with bad news and the FG Minister holding out hope of good news. From the outside looking in, all it looks more like politics than helping students in need”.
“The Department of Higher Education was formally established in August of this year, with a specifically designated Minister for Higher Education assisted by a Junior Minister. Simon Harris was moved to the Department to head it up. However, yesterday, it was left to Minister for Education Norma Foley to state that colleges would be permitted to charge full fees for the upcoming academic year if they deem it necessary. What was the Minister for Higher Education doing? He was stating he thinks fees are too high… The government needs to clarify, who is making the decisions re Higher Education? If it is Simon Harris, why did he not make the announcement re fees? If it is Norma Foley, why then is Simon Harris being paid a Senior Minister’s salary to essentially be a junior minister?”
“Politicking at this time of severe student need is shameful. This coalition is taking on water from a long list of self-inflicted crisis. It seems that FG are positioning themselves should the coalition fail. In doing so they are squandering an opportunity to help tens of thousands of students who are in serious need. “Third level institutions have had their per student funding halved in the last 12 years. Now, due to Covid, there will be a collapse in funding from the fees of foreign students. This model cannot continue without a significant reduction in the per student engagement. We are calling on the government to clear up the confusion and ensure the necessary funding is provided to reduce the pressure on students”.