By Jack Popeley and Caitriona Murphy
Thousands of students from across Ireland rallied against the implementation of student fees.
The demonstration took place on Wednesday and was organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). It was supported by dozens of communities including educational and political organisations, as well as Irish businesses.
An estimated 12,000 people marched from the Garden of Remembrance, down O’Connell Street towards the government buildings at Merrion Square, where several speakers addressed the demonstrators; including the USI president Annie Hoey and Blindboy from the Rubberbandits.
Student bodies from all of the main Dublin universities, Cork, Limerick, Carlow and Galway attended the demonstration and were also joined by representatives of several of the institutes of technology around the country.
This protest was part of an ongoing campaign set up by the USI called #EducationIs that is calling on the government to use the publicly-funded third level education model that is outlined in the Cassells Report, rather than the other option outlined; an income-contingent student loan system similar to that which currently operates in the UK.
To combat the crisis in 3rd level education a group of experts, with Peter Cassells as chair, was asked to outline a funding strategy for the education sector. The Cassells report that was published in 2016 provided a loan scheme as a possible solution.
If it was implemented, it would mean the government would scrap fees and replace it with loan repayments related to the income in employment of a graduate and it would also mean that higher education was free at the point of entry for all students. If approved, this option would see students asked to pay upwards of €20,000 back to the State however.
Watch the video below to witness the demonstrators in action and see what the president of the UL student Union, Sarah Dunphy has to say as well as UCD’s Campaign officer Luke Fitzgerald, Annie Hoey and Blindboy.