Maynooth Students’ Union Snubs Hanafin Over Cuts

Maynooth students’ union has refused to attend the opening ceremony of the new Humanities and Social Sciences building in NUI Maynooth by Minister Mary Hanafin this Thursday (September 16th).

Officers from the students’ union will be joined by other protesters outside the new building, called Iontas, at the opening at 11.30am to highlight their cause.

"The cabinet is believed to be considering a further 5% cut to the maintenance grant this year."

Although the students’ union has welcomed the construction of the building as a great asset for the university in years to come, it has outlined four reasons for the decision to boycott the ceremony.

These include possible increases in the student registration fee, possible cuts to the student maintenance grant, the potential cancellation of the Student Assistance Fund, and the inaction of the Government to combat graduate unemployment.

In the letter to the university president, Professor John Hughes, the students’ union, states:

“There are almost 100,000 people under the age of 25, who are unemployed and the current Government has done pathetically little to tackle this scourge on our society… Our constructive proposals for a national graduate internship programme have, to date, fallen on deaf ears and an increasing number of our graduates are losing hope of ever finding fulfilling employment in Ireland.”

“We are aware that the cabinet is considering increasing the Student Services Charge to €2,500 per student. Any increase in this charge is going to result in an increased reduction in the retention rate, with parents losing jobs and part-time work unavailable to defray the cost for students themselves. It is completely unacceptable to increase such a charge when neither the Minister nor Department of Education, the HEA [Higher Education Authority], the IUA [Irish Universities Association], the IOTI [Institutes of Technology of Ireland] or any college has a definition of what a ‘student service’ is.”

“The cabinet is believed to be considering a further 5% cut to the maintenance grant this year. This will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the welfare of all current students, particularly those returning to college after having lost their jobs that have invested so much already and will be left unable to continue in education.”

“The Student Assistance Fund may be cancelled altogether, leaving students most in need unable to afford the most basic essentials while in college in the event of unforeseen circumstances. This would be particularly callous and cruel.”

“It is most unfortunate that Minister Mary Hanafin TD has been chosen to open Iontas, as this Government has shown no compassion whatsoever for students’ well being. The cabinet is considering further cuts to basic student services and to the third level sector in general. It is unclear to us why the university should be honouring the Minister, even though she is a notable graduate, at this time.”

“We cannot applaud any member of this cabinet while our students and graduates remain so vulnerable and will not be attending the opening ceremony.”

(source: Cork Student News)