Rising college fees are acting as a barrier for families who want their children to progress to third level education, says Labour Senator, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who has slated the proposed introduction of student loans.

A 2016 report found a funding gap of €5.5 billion over the next 15 years in Irish third-level education, and thus recommended the introduction of a deferred payment scheme.

However, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is urging the Government not to go forward with these plans and will table a motion on the issue tomorrow.

He said: "Fundamentally, education should be something that the tax payer provides."

"We have any amount of people who are eager to get into third level but the fees and system is still a barrier for many other people and working families."

"I think a situation where a burden of loans that has to be re-paid over a number of years would deter people."

Meanwhile, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are calling on the Government to decrease third-level fees by at least €250 in Budget '18.

College fees have risen dramatically over the past ten years and Micheal Kerrigan, USI President, wants the government to finally address the spiralling costs.

He said: "So what we are proposing for Budget 2018 is a minimum of €250 reduction. We have seen a 363% increase in the student contribution since 2008, which is a massive rise.

"There is no fee in the country that has gone up anywhere close to that much in the last 10 years."