Monday, 11 August 2008

Ireland looks at tuition fees again

Here's a surprise! Having abandoned university fees in 1997, just as England was facing the reality of mass higher education, and introducing them, Ireland's education minister has put the issue back on the table. The abolition of fees has been terrible for Irish universities and has done nothing to address inequalities in access to higher education. But successive governments have been terrified of a backlash among the middle classes who have benefited from the measure, despite regular independent advice that fees were needed. Gradually increasing 'capitation charges' are all that has been allowed. However, with Ireland facing a credit crunch at least as sharp as that in the UK, and the prospect of a pay cut for lecturers to keep universities afloat, fees are back on the agenda. Ireland's university leaders will be hoping that education minister Batt O'Keeffe has the courage of his convictions.

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