Student Anger Grows Over Fees

by Cillian Gillespie

Socialist Voice October 2002

IN THE past few weeks various government ministers have been unable to visit college campuses across the country without being met with angry and militant protests . As well as this over 200 students protested outside the department of education in solidarity with students who had occupied the building inside.

These protests and occupations are a reflection of a new growing radicalism that is beginning to develop amongst students as a result of the 69% increase in registration fees. This increase is undoubtedly meant to act as a stepping stone towards the full reintroduction of fees nest year and is part of a general programme of cutbacks on the part of the current FF/PD government.

The government have tried to justify this attack on students by arguing that the original intention of abolishing fees has failed. That being that it has not benefited the more marginalized in society but rather those who can afford the fees in the first place.

This is a highly spurious argument. The fact is the abolishment of fees has benefited a significant minority of working class students. The fact that more working class young people aren't being given the chance to receive third level education is an illustration of the inadequate resources being put into education as a whole at both primary and secondary school level.

If the leadership of USI mobilised ordinary students through a campaign of protests, one day student strikes and occupations any attempt to fully reintroduce third level fees could be defeated. However up until now the careerist leadership of the union have simply limited their actions to publicity stunts.

Members of Socialist Youth along with other ordinary students came together during the Summer to launch the Campaign for Free Education(CFE) to help build such a campaign. This campaign should make sure that our union acts to defend our interests and not to launch the careers of members of the right wing establishment parties.

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