The Workers’ Party have called for fees for postgraduate teaching degrees to be scrapped as an urgent measure to address the collapse in numbers of applicants to train as teachers.
Cllr. Ryan said: “It is perfectly clear what has caused this collapse. The course fees and expenses to train to be a teacher doubled, and – in almost direct response – the numbers applying for and graduating from those courses collapsed.
The councillor said that tuition fees and insufficient maintenance grants already prevent many from entering undergraduate education, saying:
“In Sweden, every EU citizen has a right to attend college, from undergraduate level right up to PhD level, without paying any fees whatsoever. This is proven to be the only way of ensuring everybody has equal access to training and education in the field of their choice.
“But here, unless you have parents with the means to support you, it is almost impossible to finance undergraduate education. And for those who do manage to access undergraduate degrees, teaching has become a prohibitively expensive option.”
The councillor continued:
“Because of the absence of proper undergraduate courses which offer an integrated second level teaching qualification, the vast majority of students are forced to undertake an exorbitant two-year postgraduate course, costing up to €15,000 in fees.
“This makes teaching one of the most expensive options for a graduate leaving college – and well beyond the reach of most young people. If we want to increase our pool of teachers, removing this barrier is an essential first step.”
The councillor concluded that, in the longer term, only a properly funded education system would enable equal access to all qualifications, saying:
“Our public education service – from pre-school right up to PhD – should be funded properly by the exchequer through progressive taxation. This is what a right to education means.”