Education Amendment Bill 2010- Dail Debate – 10th November 2010
The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Coughlan, and her predecessor, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe, continue to insist that the student service charge does not represent the total allocation towards student services from institutions’ budgets. This probably is because the Government is diverting such funding away from student services. When the student service charge was increased to €670 in 2002, the colleges only pocketed approximately 6% of that increase and the remainder went towards the reduction of the core grant from the then Department of Education and Science. In other words, the student service charge went to defray and reduce funding from the central budget.
Moreover, the university presidents have gone on public record stating that when the student service charge increased, they used it to fund other activities. Professor John Hughes, President of NUI Maynooth, stated: “We agree with Deputy Hayes [of Fine Gael who had stated] that when the core grant has reduced on occasion, the student services charge has increased to offset the reductions in the core grant, but the universities have not been involved in [the] decision [to do so].” The former president of DCU agreed with this statement and stated: “It is a wholly unacceptable situation and the position students are in is terrible.” As reductions in the core grant and increases in the student services charge take place, it is inevitable that one must consider how income from those two sources is being distributed. If one source is reduced while the other increases, redistribution will be necessary. It would be a lot more honest for the Tánaiste to acknowledge that student fees have been introduced, rather than calling it what it is not, namely, a student service charge.