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Warnings Over Lack of Investment in third-level education

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), urged the Oireachtas Committee for Budgetry Oversight that the lack of funding in Irish universities needs to be addressed in the next budget. With growing numbers of students and an increasing demand from employers, the funding situation is only set to become “considerably worse” without a funding increase, he warned.

“In spite of modest funding increases in the last two budgets, the State funding per student remains 43% below where it was 10 years ago. The recent increases have been largely mopped up by rising student numbers,” he told the committee in his opening speech. “There is now unanimous support for a comprehensive programme of investment amongst employer leaders, unions and students with IBEC, ICTU, USI AND Chambers of Commerce, all advocating significantly increased State investment.”

It’s not the first time this month that attention has been grasped over the lack of funding by the IUA. The Presidents of Ireland’s seven universities called for changes to university funding too, specifically with regard to research funding, after a disappointing lack of grant awards from the European Research Council (ERC) funding programme.

“In a week when some universities saw further slippage in international rankings it is clear that addressing research funding as part of an overall investment package for the sector is urgently needed. Ireland’s poor performance in this year’s ERC Funding Awards is a clear warning signal that demands urgent attention from government and the funding agencies.” said professor Brian MacCraith, DCU president and chair of the Council of the IUA.

Despite repeated calls for increased funding in third level education, by both the IUA and protest movements like Fund Our Future, no plans have been announced to alleviate rising costs for students and universities.

Jim Miley pointed out the economic advantages of increased funding in his speech, arguing that under-investment would ultimately worsen the state of the country. “The requirement for significantly increased investment is now urgent. As a society, we cannot stand over anydeterioration in our third level system. It would erode our competitiveness at a time when we need to invest in our future talent to compete globally. Politicians must take responsibility for addressing this imperative.”