The Free Fees Debate…

fees

The Phil debated the contentious issue of student fees on the 15th of January, and were delighted to welcome the Provost of Trinity College, John Hegarty, to make his first public statement on the subject. The proposed return to paid third-level education has created controversy throughout the country, and emotive speakers representing a broad spectrum of interest groups attended the debate.

Edward Gaffney
(ex-Secretary) was the first to speak and, as a fee-paying MSc student, called for an end to “student subsidies”. He was followed by Emma Regan (MC), who agreed that a solution needed to be found for the issue. Bartley Rock, USI Education Officer, insisted that free fees were good for a majority of students, but was rebutted by DCU President Ferdinand von Prodzynski, who argued that fees were necessary in order to maintain a high standard across Irish universities. Cat ni Gotha of Free Education for Everyone called passionately for the government to maintain the status quo, and was criticised by Conor Sullivan (MC). Labour TD Ruari Quinn insisted that the current recession was a temporary circumstance that did not necessitate such broad changes. He was followed by John Hegarty, Provost, who talked about a return to fees as a means to continue to achieve excellence. Kiera Healy (Registrar) said that fees did not go far enough, and called for full privatisation. Finally, maiden speaker Fergus Rattigan insisted that fees were unnecessary, saying that courses such as drama would suffer were they reintroduced.

The motion was put to the house, with a majority being against fees.

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