In response, to the Cassell’s report on third level education, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Education spokesperson for People Before Profit has called for the government to implement a system of fully state funded higher education payed through progressive central taxation. People Before Profit say this option is the only way to increase the numbers of young people with the ability to access third level education and allow graduates to have more disposable income which would benefit the real economy.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said options including the retention of fees should be rejected, as should any student loan system, which would leave students with personal debts after they finished 3rd level or higher education, as these options disadvantage less well-off students and families and discourage participation.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said the government must acknowledge that education is a right, not a privilege and should be free at the point of use.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said a fully state funded system should be paid for through progressive central taxation and, in particular, by requiring profitable corporations to make a much larger corporate tax contribution to share the cost of developing an educated and skilled workforce from which they disproportionately benefit.
In addition to a fully state funded system of higher education, People Before Profit have also called for the student grants to be increased and schemes such as the back to education scheme, expanded. They also called for the reversal of the commercialisation of the higher education system and cuts to higher education and the Institutes of Technology, which have seen precarious work for staff increase over the past number of years.
Richard Boyd Barrett said:
“The student fees or student loans systems should be rejected out of hand, as they will only maintain the current failing model and financially punish students. The loan scheme model will push us even further towards the American system which sees students leaving 3rd level colleges with mountains of debt which they spend most of their working lives paying off, all in the interest of bankers and profits.
“It is clear to us in People Before Profit that there is only one feasible option from the findings in the Cassells report which is available to the government. Minister Bruton must select the fully state funded model where our third level education system is funded through progressive central taxation.
“It is also vital that we rescind all the cuts to higher education staff, remove the precarious nature of their employment and address the falling numbers of educators in our third level institutions.
“Education is a right, not a privilege and should not be a method of private banks and lenders making money off the backs of the student population. I am calling for the Minister to take the financial burden off our students and implement an education system, paid through progressive central taxation which is fee at the point of use. While doing this we have to get the multinationals to pay their full tax obligations of 12.5%, charge for Financial Transaction Tax and increase the taxes of the higher earners in our society.
“Big and profitable corporations, in particular must be forced to increase their currently pitifully low corporate tax contribution. These companies benefit directly and disproportionately from the existence of an educated and skilled workforce. They must be made to contribute a lot more towards the education of the workforce they need. ”