Students and staff at NUI Galway marched in a protest of a lack of funding for every level of higher education recently.
Fund the Future was organised by the Students’ Union at NUIG, calling for students to walk out of lectures for a protest calling on the government to properly fund higher education.
Protestors gathered at the big yellow thing outside the James Hardiman Library and marched to Quadrangle where activists from SIPTU, the Access Network, and the Students’ Union discussed how a lack of proper funding was making it harder and harder for people to get an education.
Ireland currently has the second highest level of student fees for third level education in Europe, and once the UK leaves we’ll be the worst offender.
But this march protested a much broader range of issues, included university staff protesting the growing issue of precarious employment at every level and the low level of student grants and funding for postgraduates.
Megan Reilly, President of the NUIG Students’ Union said that the funding model for higher education in Ireland is “fundamentally broken”.
On top of fees of €3,000 she highlighted that grant levels have been “stagnant” since 2012, whereas “the cost of living, particularly in the city of Galway, continues to rise”.
Students are also affected by a lack of funding for support services like student counselling where demand continues to grow year on year.
The march at NUIG was part of a nationwide movement under the Coalition for Publicly Funded Education which brings together the USI with Trade Unions and other concerned groups.
“Universities would traditionally have been known as very elite places to go to, and we would hope they are becoming more accessible,” Megan Reilly said.
But she warned that if the cost of education is not addressed, universities could go back to being elitist places inaccessible to many.