While the Irish middle classes have no problem paying fees for little Oisin and Roisin’s secondary education, they feel that third level should be “free”. That is, the ubiquitous “taxpayer” should stump up for their brats’ passport to economic advancement.
When third level fees were abolished in 1996, it was trumpeted as an initiative that would open further education up to all classes. It didn’t, of course, as a report by Dr Kevin Denny, in May 2010 found:
“..while all taxpayers, including those on lower income, end up paying for free education for third-level students, it is the children of the better off who literally cash in, getting their ticket to a better future and a higher income for free...
Meanwhile, disadvantaged students still enter third level education at the same dismally low levels."
Plus ça change.
It seems that third level education in Ireland will remain the preserve of the better off, given the lack of targeted, properly means-tested initiatives to increase the participation - and cultivate the innate intelligence - of those who don't traditionally make it to campus.
But we are in safe hands, as the future elite - as currently constituted - is certain to rescue the country from its present sorry state.
Witness the thought-provoking placards you see here, with legends such as DOWN WITH FEE'S and LESS FEES MORE GEES.
("Gee" being "vagina" in Hiberno English, for the benefit of the uninitiated).
Or perhaps it is time to simply put more resources into decent primary and secondary education?
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