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Student loan proposals ‘intimidating’

The new proposed loan scheme for students is overwhelmingly intimidating and will deter students from applying to college, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has claimed.

College graduates could face loan repayments in the region of €25 a week over a 15-year period under major reforms to third-level funding proposed in a Government-commissioned report, according to the organisation.

A draft report recommends the introduction of a new income-contingent loan system for graduates, increased maintenance grants for students from low income families and a greater contribution from both the State and employers.

The findings are contained in a confidential 70-page draft report entitled Funding Irish Higher Education: A Virtuous Circle of Investment, Quality and Verification. USI said that an already broken loan system will only further fracture the structure of the Irish education system.

“This would represent a real increase of €7,500 in fees for third level. It is unreasonable to think an increase in the current fee levels should be part of addressing third level funding.” Kevin Donoghue, USI president, said.

“In supposed times of recovery, 30,000 people have already emigrated from Ireland this year alone. The USI said this loan system will only push people further away and outlined that other countries in Europe offer better pay and lower registration fees, making the cost of education cheaper abroad. The federal third level loan system did not work in Australia, the UK or the USA. It would be impractical and illogical to introduce an already broken loan scheme to Ireland,” he concluded.

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