The plan of the government for third-level education is abysmal. Firstly, there is no commitment to reducing the student fees. Secondly, the funding is less than half of what our universities need. Thirdly, the plan comes with strings attached through the HEA Bill 2022, which is essentially a government takeover to control academia.
Not only does the plan not include a reduction in the student fees, the state is taking over academia. In the over 300-page bill, the “Minister” is mentioned 321 times. He holds sway over universities’ equality policy. The same cabinet that is gifting away the National Maternity Hospital to the church will now hold this power. He approves the budget of universities. The same neoliberal government that has decimated funding for our universities will now be able to control its finances. He will handpick people on governing bodies of universities. The same academic voices who are now dissenting will be finally muzzled.
It is a crisis that the government themselves have created, and are now stepping in as saviours to fix it. They will not. They will further push their disastrous neoliberal agenda down our throats.
Students and staff on the ground will be the most affected. The government promised no student loan system, but they cannot be trusted. They are playing the long game. Now that they will control academia, their policies cannot be stopped. We will be pushed to precarity.
In line with government policy, there is not a single mention of mental health funding within the plan. Who controls the money will control the policy. Small courses will be cut. Programmes will be merged. Academics will lose their jobs.
We would like to ask you to support the ongoing petition campaign by Students4Change and the Graduate Students’ Union of Trinity which demands to save the future of higher education in Ireland. Please see our detailed briefing on the issue here. Finally, please see our statement here, an email we sent to Trinity College Dublin here, and our email to TD template here. We are continuing this campaign that we first started in January 2022, see original statement here.
We would like to ask you to support the abolition of student fees, adequate funding for higher-education and protection of our universities’ autonomy. We need to stand up and make our voices heard and warn people of the impending catastrophe that will affect third-level education in Ireland for decades to come if this bill passes.