- Hundreds of students protest against the cost of fees and accommodation in three regional protests
- NUI Galway slammed for repeat exam fees at Galway Protest
The third of three regional student protests campaigning against the cost of higher education took place last Wednesday in Galway.
The Cost of College campaign, directed by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), aims to lobby the government for change in the cost of college fees for students in Ireland.
The campaign encompasses both the ‘F*ck the Fees’ and the ‘No Keys No Degrees’ campaigns that the USI are leading, with students in the Republic of Ireland paying the highest college fees in the EU. Students in Ireland are also subject to accommodation and renting costs of up to and exceeding €1,000.
Beth O’Reilly, the Vice President for Campaigns in the USI, told Flirt Newsfeed and SIN that “We started the Cost of College Campaign because all year we have seen so many stories of student poverty, people struggling to pay rent, and ultimately what this comes back to is that our higher education system is pricing people out of education.
“Nobody should be priced out of education. It should be a right, and not a privilege. We started this campaign and we are holding these protests to show the government that the student demand for publicly funded education is there and that they need to make a decision on that sooner rather than later.”
Three regional protests were arranged in Cork, Dublin and Galway last week as opposed to having one larger protest in Dublin to acknowledge the concerns that people would have around travelling and gathering in large groups during the pandemic. This decision was also taken in recognition of the cost of travelling to Dublin for the protests for other students around the country.
Beth O’Reilly says that it was “great to travel to other locations” for this protest and will hopefully allow the message to resonate and engage with more students along the way.
Speaking at the Galway protest, Faye Ní Dhomhnaill Convenor of The College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, said “Students are the future of this country and that future is being ripped away from us. We all deserve a future.
“This government does not care about working class students, student nurses and international students. This government needs to start investing in our future. This government needs to start caring more about students and less about landlords. “
Addressing NUI Galway specifically, Faye Ní Dhomhnaill said “At the height of the pandemic when students are suffering both mentally and financially, when students beg the university to show some compassion, NUIG was the only university in this country to charge repeat fees of €300. Shame on them. Shame on NUIG.”
Students chanted “F*ck the fees” and “Darragh, Darragh, off your fence, students can’t afford their rent,” referencing Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, as they walked the streets of Galway city.
The campaign has been recognised for this provocative language over the last couple of weeks, and Beth O’Reilly said that the reason that this language is being used is because “that is how students talk.”
She concluded that, “There is no point in us doing a campaign that is wordier and is more aimed at the government. We want to empower the students to aim their voices at the government and really reflect the anger that everyone is feeling.”