Students of GMIT Castlebar will march to the constituency office of Taoiseach Enda Kenny tomorrow (Wednesday), November 28.
The protest is part of a nationwide campaign co-ordinated by the Union of Students in Ireland. Students in Cork, Sligo and Galway have already turned out in their thousands to protest threatened college fees of €3,000 and further cuts to the student-maintenance grant, which has been cut by 12 per cent since Budget 2010.
Currently, 1,200 student attend GMIT Castlebar. Speaking ahead of the march, GMIT Students Union president, Clare Lawlor, told The Mayo News that she expects a large crowd. Some Sligo and Athlone IT students could also be attending the march, she said.
The march aims to highlight the direct effects the hikes and cuts will have on the economy of Castlebar, pointing out that students and parents who are forced to absorb the harsh fee increases and grant cuts will be left with significantly reduced disposable income.
Students are already suffering with the increase of fees and the delays in grant allocations, Lawlor said.
“People are struggling to feed themselves and their families, and it will get even worse if the government continues to hit them with fee hikes and grant cuts. We are asking them to be reasonable to people who are trying to get an education.”
According to John Logue, President of the Union of Students in Ireland, students are are struggling to make ends meet. “This week we’ve heard of students turning to charities such as St Vincent de Paul for basic needs. As tens of thousands of students wait on the first payment of their maintenance grant, thousands more current and prospective students are worried about €3,000 fees and grant cuts,” he said, adding that students weren’t looking for handouts, ‘just a hand up’.
Students will gather at the Castlebar campus at 12.30pm tomorrow and march to An Taoiseach’s constituency office on Tucker Street.