UCDSU supports upcoming USI march

THE Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have announced their plans for a large scale demonstration on Wednesday October 19th that they expect will attract in the region of 5,000 students. Despite remaining unaffiliated with the USI, UCD Students’ Union gave their support for the march and encouraged UCD students to be at the Garden of Remembrance at 1pm on Wednesday.   The USI is calling for the government and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills “to make a historic long-term decision and invest in the publicly-funded third level education model as outlined in the Cassells report.”The USI also added that an “income-contingent loan scheme is not a viable solution to third level funding as a burden of €20,000+ debt upon graduation will deter people from applying to college.”USI president Annie Hoey voiced her concern at the launch of the demonstration, “the status quo isn’t working. Third level education is unaffordable and our universities are slipping down on the QS World University Rankings. The loan scheme option put forward in the Cassells report is unsustainable. It will increase emigration, saddle young people with a mortgage-modelled debt and widen the gap between the rich and the poor.”Speaking to the University Observer UCDSU president Conor Viscardi outlined that “we won’t simply be marching asking for more money.” He also mentioned that their view is backed up by research contained in their Pre-Budget Submission which uses “information from the Hunt and Cassells reports and how they fit into the overall funding of the HEI [Higher Education Institutions], showing how its sustainable to make this investment in higher education.”The march comes in the week of the budget, which will be announced today. Explaining the timing, Viscardi stated: “that was the decision that USI made but I think the point behind this demonstration is from what I can understand it is to compel the government to make a decision in relation to the future of higher education funding.”The UCDSU Pre-Budget Submission was released last Thursday and makes a number of recommendations primarily based on the aforementioned Hunt and Cassells reports. Over the summer, the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education recommended that the higher education system be given additional funding of €600 million by 2021 and €1 billion by 2030. UCDSU are initially seeking €168 Million increase in higher education funding adding that “increasing state contributions by €100 million would start a return to 2008 levels of investment but, by investing a further €68 Million the household [student] contribution charge that so many struggle to pay would be reduced by €1000.”Additionally, a return of the maintenance grant for post-graduate students is recommended, the absence of which can only be described as a barrier to using education as a “motor for social development.”However, Viscardi did accept that the proposals had possibly been submitted too late to be considered. “In all honesty it probably is a bit late. I think the cusp of this matter is to show that opposed to just asking for money, showing how it actually fits into the overall picture and how it actually can be viable.”UCDSU’s Pre-Budget Submission has been received and read by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills, Minister Richard Bruton, Enda Kenny and leading members of the opposition and is available from the UCDSU website while the USI national demonstration takes place at the Garden of Remembrance at 1pm October 19th