Across Ireland, students are struggling to adapt to online learning. Even those with decent broadband and working computers are reporting difficulty keeping up and paying attention. Pre-recorded lectures with little interaction leave lecturers seeming even less approachable than before, courses which previously had time allocated to practical sessions now have significantly less or none at all. All of this, on top of the loneliness that students are facing as they remain isolated from their peers, has resulted in a massive decline in the quality of our education.
We are left feeling like we are paying for the opportunity to teach ourselves. This is unacceptable. All this when the 26 counties has the highest student contribution fee in the EU, with our peers in the North paying even more.
The current measures that have been taken by the government to aid this situation, the free laptop scheme and €250 refund, are welcome but simply not enough. Students who paid for accommodation, only to learn that all their classes would online, deserve better. Students who are teaching themselves and feel as if they’re attending “YouTube University” deserve better. Students without strong broadband who are forced to rely on mobile data deserve better. Many of the facilities that our fees are supposed to be paying for are closed, while we still pay the same amount as last year.
We demand a full refund of fees this year, and that the Department of Further and Higher Education begin to seriously consider the abolition of tuition fees. Education is a human right, and it’s high time it is treated as such.
After signing this petition please share your online learning story with #WhatAmIPayingFor, and don’t forget to tag Simon Harris, Micheál Martin, the Department of Further and Higher Education and your local TDs!
After you’ve done that, we encourage you to join catuireland.org, a tenant & community action union that’s taking on landlords who are taking the piss.
Finally, we’re organising an open Zoom meeting to discuss further campaigns, actions and occupations that can take place to fight for our fees. Join us on the 3rd of December at 6 pm here:
Sign the petition to The Department of Further and Higher Education Research, Innovation and Science: Refund Student Fees 2020/21
Inadequate state funding as a result of brutal austerity budgets has forced higher level institutions to rely on private investment, tuition and/or other entry fees paid by students in order to deliver higher level education programmes and generate research. This has not only threatened access to higher education but also threatens the very nature and integrity of higher level education itself as our higher level institutions are increasingly being made to serve the needs of private industry, and quantify research and achievement as profit-oriented targets.
Increasingly, access to education is being hindered not only by tuition and entry fees, but also inadequate housing and ever-increasing living costs imposed on students. As a result, places within our higher level education institutes are being allocated on the basis of ability to pay rather than performance. Additionally, students forced to support themselves financially during their studies are struggling to maintain a high standard of learning on top of working 20+ hours a week.
For these reasons, the Connolly Youth Movement supports the abolishment of tuition along with any other entry-related fees across the island of Ireland. Moreover, free and sufficient student housing should be supplied by the state as a fundamental prerequisite to the operation of any educational institution, while higher level grants and funding should be combined into a comprehensive agency that can means test and financially structure programmes to allow students from any background to support themselves at a standard of decency throughout their term of education.
– CYM General Statement on Higher Level Education Fees