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03 News

September 28th 2010

Student representatives accuse government of misusing registration fee Byron Murphy

Deputy/News Editor

The government has been accused of attempting to sneak tuition fees past students in the form of the reg- istration fee, which is expected to rise again in the upcoming year. The Union of Students in Ireland along with UCC’s Students’ Union has leveled the accusation amidst rising fears. This would be seen as an undermining of the govern- ment’s assertion that it would not reintroduce tuition fees during this term of office. The fee has already increased by 780% since it was in- troduced in 1995.

The Student Services charge, the official term for the fee, was intro- duced to support services outside of those required directly for teach- ing and studying in third level ed- ucation, such as the cost of registration and examination, along with students’ unions and clubs and societies. However the fee has in- creased dramatically since, reach- ing 1500 in 2008, and this is raising criticism as the fee has been stretched to fund areas previously funded by tuition fees. UCC Stu- dents’ Union President Keith O’ Brien stated: “Five hundred and ninety-five Euro is the actual Stu- dent Services charge. That’s what we pay to have services on campus such as the health centre, the chap-

laincy, the accommodation office, the students’ union, the societies and clubs, (and) that’s what stu- dents pay for with that €595. The €905 that remains of the 1500 is what goes to university to supple- ment the €905 per student that the government is cut. So it’s not going anywhere, it’s not any extra money.”

The USI president Gary Redmond also voiced this complaint, telling the Irish Times: “Two years ago, when it went from €900 to €1500, all the universities and ITs saw a cut of €600 per student in their budget”. Mr. Redmond also stated “The student services charge is now being used by institutions

across the country to cover core ac- ademic facilities such as Libraries and IT infrastructure and is nothing short of third level fees under an- other name.”

Now there are fears that with the upcoming release of the Hunt re- port, there will be a further extreme increase in the fee which could climb as high as €2500 or even €3000. An increase of this much would see extreme opposition, but it is almost certain that the fee will be raised some amount in the up- coming years, which has led stu- dent representatives to accuse the government of attempting to sneak tuition fees past students dishon- estly.

Student Patrol deemed successful Catherine Dennehy

The Student Patrol initiative which made the move from Raise and Give week to Freshers’ week has been received as a success. A large number of volunteers helped to maintain order around campus at night, keep the area clean and edu- cate students on the consequences of public disorder before any in- volvement with the Gardaí was necessary.

Organiser of the Student Patrol, Gary Mulcahy, said that the expe- rience had been very positive. “It went very well. Students were very responsive to us. We were able to save students from getting arrested and we helped residents with their complaints about noise.” The vol- unteers worked in conjunction with community Gardaí and could con- tact them if required.

The volunteers felt that they were well received by the students they encountered. No major incidents occurred during the week. One pa- troller, Laura Harmon, said that she was glad to be involved with the project because of its benefits to other students. “There were some negative reactions from some of the students we encountered but overall, the majority of the students were receptive and positive about the patrol. I decided to apply to be- come a student patroller because I believe in the aims of the initiative

- to keep students safe, to inform students of the possible conse- quences that they may face if they break the law. Also, I had spoken to people who did the patrol last year who gave positive feedback.” Ms. Harmon felt that whatever negativity the patrol received will diminish when students realise the patrol are there for the good of stu- dents. Many of those involved re- marked on the lack of education that students had about the conse- quences of public intoxication and disorder. Another volunteer, Michelle McCarthy, commented, “On telling some of them that drinking on the street was illegal, some argued that since they were 18 they were entitled to do it and were genuinely surprised when we told them about the €63 fine. We probably saved some of them a bit of money.” The patrol also pointed out that many didn’t realise that if students were convicted of a public order offence, they may be unable to receive Garda vetting or a J1 visa, which could impact them greatly in the future.

Due to the success of this week, the Students’ Union is now consider- ing expanding the future of the Student Patrol. Daithi Linnane, Deputy President of the Students’ Union was heavily involved in the organisation for Freshers Week. “Last year the program started dur- ing R&G Week to great success and we decided to implement it

again during other key problem times. We worked with the Gardaí and looked at the patterns from previous years, and decided that Freshers’ Week and R&G Week were the obvious priorities, but money depending, we are looking at Halloween and at the end of each term.”

It is a costly endeavour, jointly funded by the university, through the Vice President for the Student

Experience Con O'Brien and by the SU. Mr. Linnane explained that “there are a number of expenses ranging from phone credit to staff costs, to high vis vests so it’s quite an expensive program to run. We are looking at new funding models for the future though.”

Due to the response received last week, Mr. Linnane is optimistic about the future of the program. “We had great feedback from resi-

The topic of the registration issue will remain a contentious issue in the upcoming months and student representative bodies will no doubt be vocal in their displeasure at the government attempting stealth tu- ition fees. SU Deputy President Daithi Linnane also stressed the se- riousness of the issue. In a state- ment he said: “The 60% clawback in the registration fee has caused families the same level of difficulty as the pension levy or income levy, but no one has said anything be- cause it has been hidden by the government and brought through the back door.’’

dents, landlords and the Gardaí, and I think that this week has yet again proved that this is a worthy project. The Student Patrol is not a bunch of killjoys, they are students taking responsibility for them- selves and their college, and acting as an intermediary between stu- dents and the Gardaí. It is better that students are the ones telling people about the laws and ensuring that nobody is doing anything too dangerous or anti-social then stu- dents having the laws read to them in the back of a squad car. We are looking out for them.”

Audrey Dearing, Gensoc and Jamie Hooper, Film Soc at UCC Freshers Fest 2010. Photo: Julia Healy

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