May 22, 2012

Student Contribution Comes Out on Top in Trinity’s Fees Vote

Ronan Costello

The preferred option of the majority of Trinity students in USI’s online fees poll is the student contribution. The student contribution narrowly won the favour of Trinity voters, just beating out a student loan scheme.

Turnout in the poll increased significantly on the previous preferendum, with 1879 votes cast. Students had been logging into all week to voice their preference for how third level education should be funded.

TCDSU President Ryan Bartlett released the following statement on the Trinity results:


“First, it was great to see so many Trinity students engage in this process at a time of year when their sole focus is generally on exams. This was the highest turnout for a referendum that wasn’t attached to a sabbatical election in four years.

As for the result itself, Trinity students have recognised the strains on the current system and demonstrated their willingness to contribute to the quality of third level education. However, while it’s important to ensure that we maintain the quality of the education being provided, we also have to ensure that we have an equitable system for paying the student contribution so that it doesn’t place an unfair burden on students. To that end, we have worked all year to ensure that the contribution can be paid in two installments. This is expected to be confirmed soon by College Board.

While this means that the Trinity delegation at USI Special Congress will be voting for the student contribution as their first preference in the vote on what USI’s new position on fees should be, it’s notable that students also considered a student loan scheme. This clearly shows that many students would appreciate a mechanism for deferring payments of the student contribution.

The next step is to take these results and make a policy document with which to lobby government.”

See full list of results below:


Count Option


Total Valid Poll



Round 1


Graduate tax


One hundred percent Exchequer funded


One hundred percent upfront fees


Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)


Student loan scheme


None of the above

“One hundred percent upfront fees” was eliminated.

Round 2


Graduate tax


One hundred percent Exchequer funded


Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)


Student loan scheme


None of the above

“None of the above” was eliminated.

Round 3


Graduate tax


One hundred percent Exchequer funded


Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)


Student loan scheme

“Graduate tax” was eliminated.

Round 4


One hundred percent Exchequer funded


Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)


Student loan scheme

“One hundred percent Exchequer funded” was eliminated.

Round 5


Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)


Student loan scheme

“Student contribution / Registration fee (Currently €2,250)” has exceeded the quota and is declared the winner.

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  • Scorpio

    The ‘student contribution’ was the result of a compromise between USI’s failed ‘no fees at any cost’ position and the Government’s obvious unwillingness to pay 100% of tuition.

    It was hacked together from something that was supposed to only cover student services. It’s one-size-fits-all, there are a lot of families which don’t qualify for the grant and will not be able to afford this ever-increasing ‘contribution’. Why not design a logical and fair system instead of using a compromised one?

    The charade of it not technically being fees means that it’s harder to get bank loans or tax credits for it. I really don’t understand why this unfit for purpose status quo has won.

    For the USI to campaign for this is just one small step above campaigning for full fees.

  • Will NUIG

    Students who voted for registration fees and student loans deserve all the debt they are going to be laden with.
    Those who didn’t should be very angry.

    • Karl Marx


    • Sean

      “FEE calls for an end to democracy” I can see the headlines!

  • Jack

    This is democracy, Will.

    • Fiachra

      And for those who can’t afford to pay the student contribution, but aren’t eligible for the grant, it’s the tyranny of the majority.

  • Fiachra

    Compared to the catastrophic turnout the last time, I suppose the fact that 11% of people voted should be considered a victory of sorts for the TCDSU. That’s still not a mandate for anything, compared to the amount of people that attended the protest rally in the centre of Dublin last year.

    • Mark O’Meara

      I think you’ll find that far less than 11% of students attended the protest rally. But even still, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Were these people unable to vote or something?

      • Fiachra

        Point being, that holding a poll in the middle of exams, when college is winding down and students have other things on their minds is just a little bit ridiculous.

        • Sean

          One could argue it’s one of the best times. No lectures/tutorials etc, and the urge to procrastinate at its highest.

          • Fiachra

            Procrastinate in the middle of exams? Well fair enough, some people might. But a lot of people I know gave up facebook, barely checked their emails, and stayed at home studying.

  • khamilto

    It doesn’t matter when the exam is held, the vast majority of students will never vote.

    • Fiachra

      Even taking that cynical approach, you have got admit that the turnout was pitiful.

  • Seebass

    Ah sure it’s grand everyone – TCDSU look like a bunch of fucking idiots now thanks to the USI vote. Hey, it’s democracy.

  • Pingback: Scribbles By Dan: Irish students deserve better than the USI – broken record policy-making leaves students disillusioned and hopeless for the future of third level()

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