This Irish Times article discusses the Green Party's apparent aversion to a new system of student charges that - apparently- the government is considering introducing. The proposal is for a new "student contribution fee" on top of the existing student registration charge.
According to their spokesman, a Mr Gogarty, this would conflict with the Program for Government which agreed that “This Government will not proceed with any new scheme of student contribution to third-level education.” Yes, it certainly sounds inconsistent.
The spokesman adds " “We have conceded that the new student charge that’s coming in is going to be higher than the registration fee it replaces, but the question is, how much higher? If it is too high, then it’s basically fees by the back door....That’s non-negotiable as far as I am concerned,”
A fee is a fee whatever you call it. Just as calling a tax a "contribution" or a "levy" makes no difference. So if you concede that there is a new charge being introduced then it is a fee on top of the fee that is already there. To say "if its too high then it's basically fees by the back door" is risible in my view. It is fees by the front door and irrespective of the level set.
And what is "too high" anyway? If it was €10 would that be too high? Eh, no. €10,000? Eh, yes. So it is negotiable actually.
In the discussions about how the government's book-keeping deals with expenditures related to the banking rescue it has been emphasized again and again that international markets see through any creative accounting. These people are not stupid. Likewise students and their parents are not stupid: they know a shake-down when they see one. So why is it so hard for politicians to be transparent and honest about such an important issue?
It seems that the "Fees debate" will continue to attract incoherent thinking, dissembling and general woolly-mindedness.