About 5,000 students were expected to attend a demonstration on 4 October opposing the introduction of income-contingent student loans in Ireland.
The event, held by the Union of Students in Ireland, was called to pressure the government to take immediate action on higher education funding after a report published last year found that the current system was not sustainable.
The introduction of income-contingent loans alongside increased tuition fees is one of the measures outlined in a report into the future funding of higher education in Ireland, known as the Cassells report, published last year. The report found that universities would need an additional €600 million (£532 million) in core funding by 2021.
Michael Kerrigan, president of USI, said that students should not “be fooled by the propaganda of a student loan”.
Mr Kerrigan said: “Education is in the red. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda of a student loan. An income-contingent student loan outlined in the Cassells report is a drastic increase in fees from €3,000 to €5,000 a year in disguise.”
He added: “The moment we accept higher fees and a loan scheme, we are saddling people with €20,000 of mortgage-modelled debt and forcing them to emigrate. The message would be loud and clear to future students: take your €20,000 debt, your degree, and get out.”