By Conor Payne, UL Socialist Youth
AFTER INITIALLY saying it would announce its plans in relation to college fees in April, the government has delayed the decision. The hated Fianna Fail and Green government want to minimise the amount of “bad news” in the run-up to the European and Local Elections. Young people will not be fooled by this approach. There is no doubt that fees are on the cards and that they will deny access to education for thousands of young people.
The government has hinted that fees will be brought in by means of a loan system, saddling students with massive debts on leaving college. Far from targeting the rich, under this system those wealthy enough to be able to pay upfront will actually pay less.
According to government, fees are likely for 2010, with those students who enter college in September ’09 liable for fees from 2nd Year. The economic crisis is so extreme that we can’t rule out that a loan system may even be overtaken by the government’s desperate need to get money in up front.
Whatever form fees take, a strategy based on lobbying and occasional protests hasn’t been and will not be enough to stop fees. We need a movement that gets the mass of college and school students active, as well as appealing to the broader opposition to the government in society generally.
The opposition to fees must link up with the opposition of college staff to pay cuts and redundancies and the widespread anger at cuts to primary and secondary education. Tactics such as student strikes and occupations can form part of a real challenge to the government’s plans.
Socialist Youth is active in Free Education for Everyone (FEE), a campaign organised on campuses across the country. FEE can help to build the type of mass movement necessary to defeat fees and fight for a fully free education system.