UCC President supports third-level fees

THE PRESIDENT of University College Cork (UCC), Dr Michael Murphy, has revealed his support of third-level fees to be introduced in the next academic year. Speaking to The University Observer, Dr Murphy said “given where the economy is going and the messages that we’re getting from the exchequer, I’m not so confident that without the introduction of fees… we’ll be in a position to avoid very damaging cuts next year.”Dr Murphy spoke about the reasons he feels the return of fees is necessary, stating that in his job he has, “a primary responsibility to make sure that the university is resourced to the best possible level, to give the best possible educational experience for students… when I look at the ground rules with regard to financing any organisation, the first ground rule for anybody is to make sure that they have a diverse source of income.”When asked about how he felt about third-level fees being re-introduced, Dr Murphy answered that “as a parent, unhappy and as a president of a university I have to support it. Necessity is the mother of invention.”Dr Murphy deemed that the performance of the universities to be adequate but didn’t believe that they were performing to their full potential stating that “in life, in general, you get what you pay for… if we have a government ambition and a public ambition to have ‘world class’ university education, then we’ve got to be prepared to pay for it.”An introduction of fees needs to be accompanied by policies and procedures which ensure that those who are vulnerable are protected, according to Dr Murphy. He believed if fees were introduced “without policies and procedures to ensure equity [that] would be a very serious regression in social policy.”He also thought that the benefits of third-level education and subsequent earnings would balance out any financial difficulties experienced in the short-term. “I suppose that one of the other realities is that, there's no doubt about it, university confers a fairly significant earnings advantage over a lifetime on individuals,” said Dr Murphy. “And as I said, there's a strong social argument that beneficiaries should be the payers.”Despite the unpopularity of the proposal among students, Dr Murphy still believes that fees must be introduced, explaining that “my Students’ Union asked me that how could I ignore the wishes of seventeen and a half thousand students here and I had to explain that it was moral courage on my part.”