Fianna Fáil Kerry Senator Mark Daly has hit out at Fine Gael and Labour for persisting with sweeping cuts to further education that will result in the loss of around 8 teachers at institutes of further education across Kerry.
Senator Daly was commenting after Government TDs voted down a Fianna Fáil motion in the Dáil calling for a reversal of the ‘highly regressive’ cuts to further education. According to Senator Daly, the cuts in funding for VECs and PLC colleges announced in Budget 2013, along with the cuts to training allowances and the Back to Education Allowance will result in a significant reduction in student places on PLCs and in the number of courses available.
“As a result of Budget 2013, 4 whole time teaching posts will be cut at colleges of further education in Kerry. These posts are mostly filled by part-time teachers, so it is likely that around 8 teachers could be lost across Kerry,” explained Senator Daly.
“Across the country, about 400 specialised PLC teachers will be dropped from the system as a result of these cuts. There is no doubt that students here in Kerry and across the country will suffer as a result.
“The latest statistics show there are 16,322 people on the Live Register in Kerry, 2,327 of whom are under the age of 25. These people are looking for work opportunities at home, and the specialised courses and training offered by our institutes of further education provide much needed opportunities. It is a grave mistake to persist with plans to water down this sector when little or nothing has been done to tackle the jobs crisis.
“Last week in the Dáil, Fine Gael and Labour Deputies had chance to show that they are in fact committed to supporting job-seekers and tackling educational disadvantage. It is deeply disappointing that they refused to recognise the hugely damaging impact of their decision and are persisting with measures that will have a significant impact on students and job seekers into the future,” Senator Daly said.
FF Dáil Motion slams Government’s treatment of students
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has heavily criticised the Government for failing to keep its promises to students and their parents across Kerry in relation to third level fees and student grants.
The Dáil this week debated a Fianna Fáil motion calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to stop the year-on-year increases in third level fees and start taking responsibility for the unprecedented crisis in processing student grants this year. Unfortunately, this motion was voted down by Government parties meaning thousands of students have been left in limbo with no idea of when their grant applications will be processed.
The latest figures show that almost 2,000 students from across Kerry are still waiting for their grant applications to be processed by the new centralised student grant system, SUSI, set up this year by Minister Quinn.
Senator Daly explained, “Minister Quinn was quick to bask in praise when SUSI was established. But now that his new system is riddled with problems and threatening the third level education of many students in Kerry and across the country, the Minister wants to blame everyone else instead of taking responsibility himself. I have spoken to many local students who have been unable to register properly in college as a result of these problems, can’t get any answer from officials, and are now at risk of having to drop out of college unless the Government starts taking action.
“Students and their parents in Kerry have been abandoned spectacularly by Minister Quinn and his colleagues. Many voters across this region voted for Labour and Fine Gael in the last general election based on their promises not to increase the cost of college. These families are now wondering what has happened to those promises now? They were used by the Minister to achieve power and quickly discarded when he secured it.
“Minister Quinn is essentially reintroducing third level fees through the back door. He already increased the student registration fee by €250 this year and he plans to increase it by a further €750 over the next three years. That’s a massive hike of over €1,000 in the lifetime of this government. He abolished post-graduate grants, thereby putting further education out of the reach of many students who want to up-skill here in Ireland. And for those first-year students who need a grant to get through college, Minister Quinn has failed abysmally to ensure they get this support within a reasonable time frame.