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People Before Profit NUIG have urged NUI Galway to significantly lower fees for the forthcoming academic year, given the impact of the ongoing pandemic. A recent report from RTÃ‰ suggests that universities have indicated no interest in dropping fees for the forthcoming academic year. This is not acceptable, fees are already outrageously high before taking into account the fact that the next academic year will be delivered largely online. PBP have stressed that this would be a massive mistake on behalf of the university.
Reports have emerged in the past couple of days that universities arenâ€™t planning to reduce fees, but if that is the line of thinking currently being taken within NUI Galway then they better start re-thinking. One thing that is an absolute certainty is that students are not going to lie down and take this easily. In years gone by, the university has continued to push the limits of student exploitation further and further, but I think the Cut The Rent protest earlier this year has shown that the student isnâ€™t going to accept that anymore. The last academic year was cut significantly short without any rebate on our extortionate fees, not just that but the highly contentious Student Levy was charged as well. This is despite the fact that students didnâ€™t have access to the facilities that this levy funds. Furthermore, the way that university fees have snowballed over the course of the last decade, in our supposedly free education system, is nothing short of extortionate. So if the university thinks that the student body is going to sit down quietly and pay well in excess of three thousand euro for courses consisting mainly of online classes they have another thing coming.
It was claimed in the article published by RTÃ‰ that universities are a â€˜chronically under-funded sectorâ€™. However, having investigated the finances of NUI Galway I can assure you, that is not the case. NUI Galway, registered as a charity and taking in huge amounts of EU and government funding, takes in profits in the millions per annum. Furthermore, as of August 31st 2018, NUI Galway held reserves amounting to â‚¬257,999,000. The university will claim that fees cannot be reduced to counteract the loss of money from foreign students. However, that begs two questions. First of all, if such a large reserve cannot be dipped into in the emergency situation of a pandemic, then why is such a large reserve even being kept? Second of all, why is the running of our universities contingent upon the exploitation of foreign students? Perhaps if the university is concerned about the finances of reducing fees for the coming year they could start by reviewing why the president of the university of NUI Galway is on a higher rate of pay than An Taoiseach. This is particularly relevant given the provost of Trinity and the president of Maynooth were both given court orders to have their salaries reduced years ago, despite the fact that they earned less than the president of NUI Galway to begin with.
PBP NUIG are completely opposed to full fees being implemented for the coming academic year, and direct student action is inevitable if a reduction is not granted.
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