Once again a statement from the Minister for Education along the lines of "proposals will be before Cabinet in a number of weeks" regarding fees. He's been saying this since last year, so it will be interesting to see when we finally get the announcement. Now of course everything is contingent on the raft of new taxes and public sector cutbacks that will be imposted in April's emergency budget. Things are certainly looking grim on all fronts and fees will probably seem like the least of people's worries. With increasing unemployment, reduced graduate employment and a higher tax regime it's not exactly the best time to also bring in a fees scheme and the income certainly won't benefit the universities since they'll barely cover the cuts presumably.
The new taskforce was formally launched yesterday too with a remit of determining the shape of higher education over the next 20 years, apparently. I commend the group if they are capable of making accurate long term predictions, something I'd have thought recent developments suggest that economists of all people are barely capable of. The group is headed up by a key player in the drive towards financial deregulation and privatisation of public services.
Report in today's Irish Times.
Yesterday, at the launch of the new UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, President McAleese reminded the audience that the reason for much of Ireland's progress over recent decades was the provision of free education at secondary and third levels. Interesting comment in the context of the debate.