Around 250 college students gathered outside the Dail on Tuesday as part of the USI’s ‘F**k the Fees’ campaign.
They were protesting Ireland’s €3,000 student contribution charge, which students who don’t receive SUSI have to pay annually.
This week, similar protests were also held in Cork and Galway.
Caoimhe O’Carroll, USi Vice President for the Dublin Region told Dublin Live that a lot of the time students are “are heard but not listened to”.
She said: “F**k the fees came about following all of the student accommodation frustration earlier in the semester.
“We wanted to build on that momentum and reflect the frustration and anger that students felt.
“A lot of the time we are heard but not listened to.
“The whole idea behind F**k the fees is to make it more in your face and reflect frustration that students feel.”
She said that having the contribution charge scrapped “is not a pipe dream”.
She said: “So it’s under the broader branding of cost of college. F**k the fees is trying to get at the student contribution charge, the 3,000 that the majority of students pay every year. And also international students pay above and beyond that 3,000.
“But also the general cost associated with going to college. So the extortionate accommodation costs that students have to pay.
“And also hidden costs, which is a really relevant thing and something I think we need to pick up on more. For example art students having to buy supplies… things that aren’t covered under SUSI or the contribution charge, they still have to pay.
“So F**k the fees is around the student contribution charge but there’s a wider call for student welfare and student support and publicly funding student life and higher level education.
“(The student contribution charge) should ideally be scrapped altogether. Obviously that wouldn’t happen overnight but just to flag, we pay the highest fees in the EU so there’s plenty of countries that don’t charge people to go to college.
“It’s totally doable and it’s not a pipe dream. It’s a very real possibility if a minister put their minds to it.”
She said the protest received “good engagement” from opposition TDs, but no members of Government engaged with the group.
“So the estimation is about 250 students. It was a great protest, really good. We were very happy with the turnout particularly considering circumstances at the moment.
“It was really well managed and respectful of social distancing. All colleges stayed together so they all had small bubbles at the protest but also there was social distancing and masking enforced and that was really well abide by.
“We were there for about an hour and ten minutes. There was very good energy.”
Caoimhe said the most common problem Dublin students approach her with is accommodation.
“The biggest thing is accommodation. You talk about any capital city and that’s always going to be the biggest problem.
“From a Dublin perspective, there’s more students now commuting than living in Dublin. That’s putting a massive burden on people.
“So that would be the primary issue and the cost of living in the city. You hear stories of people having to live in hotels, sharing a bed with another student in order to get by and in order to afford rent.
“Just the general cost of college is totally inaccessible.”
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