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By Eimear Rabbitt, intern

We all knew it was coming but it still didn't make it any easier as details of the four year plan to re-stimulate growth in the Irish economy was laid bare in the glare of the media last week.

It left a bitter taste in many mouths and the taste continued to sour as 60,000 people turned out on the snow capped streets of the country's capital last Saturday to voice their discontent.

First our government had to bail out the banks, now Europe has to bail out the government.

As a dispirited and broken Irish public faces into next week's budget, it is now an almost certainty that the effects of the next few budgets will remain with the remaining Irish public long after this government has been show the door.

The introduction of a property tax which will now include all home owners, the loss of 25,000 jobs in the public sector and a decrease in the minimum wage, were just a few of the bullets delivered to an already wounded Irish public.

While some of the cutbacks will be implemented less severely over the four-year period, the country is bracing itself for the December 7th budget, set to be the harshest yet

How will students be affected?
  • Registration fees will be set at 2,000euro, a 500-euro increase on last year. The minimum wage will fall to 7.65. Although this will not generate any direct finance for the economy, finance minister Brian Lenihan is hoping that it will stimulate growth in the economy.
  • Tax bands will widen to include lower income earners, meaning that students with part time jobs could find themselves paying tax if there earnings exceed the expected 300-euro cut off rate.
  • There are also worries regarding the student grant with plans to significantly decrease state expenditure over the next few years.

    While no one doubts that change is definitely needed, the country needs to look to the future and stop arguing about the past. The youth of today who grew up blissfully indifferent to the political and corporate corruption going on around them must now deal with the 85 billion euro price tag, a direct result of this corruption

    As full-scale political war erupts around us, many big names have big opinions about where we should go from here and who should be charged with trying to steady this sinking ship. As members of the opposition rush to berate the current batch of ministers, they are quick to implore that they would of acted differently but somehow seem to fall short of explaining exactly how.

    However, with the knowledge that there is a need for change but an uncertainty about how to achieve it, the Irish public can still see no road to recovery in sight. It seems that everyone is being made to suffer but with no visible light at the end of the tunnel a lot of people are asking the question why.

    As they face increased fees, a decrease in part time jobs and the loss of financial support from parents who are struggling to pay their mortgages, what do the future of this country, the youth of today, think about the current situation...

    Niamh Kinsella, 20, arts student, Maynooth: I have a lot of worries about the future: The worry of not being able to get a job in the field I have studied in for the last number of years and also not being able to afford to pursue a further year or two in college to receive a master of h dip. Emigration seems to be the only option at the moment but I am worried that when I eventually come home my degree will be no good because I haven't been able to use it.

    Aoife Hudson, 20, Marketing student, Institute of Technology Tallaght: I think the only way out of the recession is for people to start spending again, which will get the economy flowing again. But by cutting peoples income further and decreasing the minimum wage, they are just de-motivating people to spend and therefore spiralling us further into recession. A lot of multi national companies have now left Ireland, Cadbury has been taken over by a foreign company so education is all we really have left. But if they continue to increase fees, they are just increasing the number of people who have to drop out and are basically ruining the only thing that Ireland has left to pull them out of the recession.

    Siobhan Mc Cann, 21, NUI Galway: I think emigration is definitely on the cards, especially for teaching. I am doing masters in Irish at the moment and I am really worried about the future when I graduate. I don't think there is a future for graduates here anytime soon.

    Rachel Mc Closkey, 20, Institute of Technology Tallaght: I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they are even considering putting up the fee's because many students will now have to face the possibility of leaving college as they wont be able to afford to continue. I think that it is terrible that students have to pay so much in the first place just to register to get an education. I am personally afraid of the fees being increased as my father has lost his job and my family or myself cannot afford to pay.

    Ruth Killen,21, Journalism student, DIT: Im not too worried on a personal level about what the budget will bring as I am in my final year at college and I am lucky enough to have a part time job that is above the minimum wage. Even still, I think I could manage on the minimum wage but that's only because I still live at home. I know it would be terrible for a lot of people.

    Elaine Brett, 21, radiography student, UCD: Continuing to increase fees is just going to make college elitist all over again as more and more people will no be able to afford it, which will decrease prodcutivity and lead to more unemployment.

    Amy Slater, 20, St. Pats College, Drumcondra: I think it is a disgrace that they are increasing fee's when they are taking so much money away from us at the same time. There is no balance. Education is supposed to be one of the most important things, so by putting it at risk it is only going to lead to worse times in the future.

    Adam shandley, 22, postgraduate student UCC: When i first started third level, I never imagined that I would be graduating in this economical climate. As I go to more and more 'farewell parties' of my fellow graduates who are leaving I am trying to stay positive about a future career here. I chose postgraduate study as I think it is a shelter against recession but also an opportunity for further personal development and to really engage with a particular area of study. Because of the amazing employment opportunities that were available to graduates during the celtic tiger period in comparison to what we have now, I think that a lot of today's students have become too dispirited. Graduating into such a challenging environment is going to be very difficult but we have to be positive about it and realise that we have the chance to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others, to widen our skills and to broaden our outlook and knowledge. We have to do this because it is neccesary and otherwise the challenges of living in today's economy will become too much. We cant alllow ourselves to become the downtrodden vicitms of a mishandled economy.

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