Third level students from all over Ireland took to the streets of Dublin yesterday for the USI March for Education.
The protest commenced at the Garden of Remembrance and the students marched to the Dáil in torrential rain, calling on the Government to protect essential student services in next month’s budget.
Speaking at yesterday’s rally, NCI student Rebecca Caulfield (20) said, “If we didn’t protest and costs go up in the budget, it’s going to hold a lot of people back and less people are going to go on to third level education.”
USI president Laura Harmon said that the main goal of the rally was to protect the existing State financial support services for third level students:
“The main thing we hope to achieve is to highlight the fact that student supports need to be protected in Budget 2015. The student maintenance grant and the Back to Education Allowance must be protected.”
According to DIT Student Union President Fiachrá Duffy the march was the beginning of the USI’s #EducationIs campaign which aims to show the Government that education is a very positive thing for our society.
“It is to get people behind us”, said Mr Duffy, “It isn’t just students; it is everyone coming together to say that education is positive and it should be made more accessible and more affordable for as many as possible.”
Mr Duffy also added that around 45% of students studying in DIT are on some sort of State financial support.
“It is essential that we call for those financial supports to be protected for our students” he said.
Despite the weather it was estimated that 1,500 students from throughout the country took part in yesterday’s rally, and were joined by lecturers and trade unions.
This was a low turnout compared to previous national scale protests in 2010 and 2011, in which around 40,000 students took part. However Fiachrá Duffy said that numbers weren’t an issue.
“I think it was important that there were people there,” said the DITSU President.
“It was to show that students from all over Ireland are united on the same issue, and I think that it is a representation that we are all calling for the same thing,” he added.