Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris has said that students will have to pay their full college fees this year, regardless of the circumstances.
Opposition TDs have called on the Minister for Education Norma Foley to reduce fees due to students spending less time on campus than during a normal academic year.
While Mr Harris said he would like to see the registration fee fall, he could not promise that this would happen in the upcoming budget.
"I do think the registration fee in Ireland is too high and it is something that I would like to see addressed, obviously that depends on a whole variety of issues but I am committed to working on it," said Simon Harris.
However, Minister Foley has said that colleges are entitled to charge up to €3,000 in fees, regardless of the circumstances. Furthermore, considering the financial pressure third-level institutions are under due to COVID-19, it is highly doubtful that they will apply reductions.
“Any determination as to the level of fees to be charged is a matter for each institution in accordance with its own particular operational conditions and circumstances in ensuring education provision for students through this pandemic.
“The balance between face-to-face and online will vary across programmes and will depend on factors such as the disciplinary teaching and learning needs and the numbers of students registered on individual programmes as well as the practical/theoretical balance of learning outcomes in the programme," Foley said.
“Where students do not meet the eligibility criteria of the free fees initiative, for example, full-time undergraduate students who do not qualify for the free tuition fees, part-time undergraduates, or any postgraduate students, it is a matter for the higher education institution, as an autonomous body, to determine which fee rate is applicable for students,” she added.
Several opposition TDs, including People Before Profit's Richard Boyd-Barrett, as well as the USI have called on college fees to be reduced due to the 'blended' learning system in place for the upcoming academic year.