The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is calling on the government to increase funding for universities in Budget 2019. IUA has called for a €130 million investment in core funding to Irish universities alongside a €104 million increase in capital investment.
The calls were made by the Director General of the IUA Jim Miley in a statement released today. Miley also called for a further investment of €5.5 billion in capital investment by 2030.
In a video released today, Jim Miley called on the government to provide further funding, stating: “There needs to be a sustained programme of investment to create the next wave of talent to fuel the knowledge economy. That’s good for our children. It’s good for our business.”
Miley explained that while last year’s budget brough “modest” increases, “the gap in core funding to 2021, based on the Cassells analysis, remains in excess of €550 million. That is a massive gap”.
“It is essential that this funding gap is bridged if there is to be any meaningful progress on achieving the Government’s ambition to have a ‘best in Europe’ higher education system,” said Miley. “Or to put it more bluntly, failure to bridge the gap leaves Ireland trailing behind competing nations.”
The IUA is the representative body of Ireland’s seven universities, of which Trinity is a member. Trinity have shown their support by sharing Jim Miley’s video on the official Trinity twitter account.
This announcement comes two years after the Cassells report, which offered recommendations to the government on how to fund the higher education system. However, since the report was published, little progress has been made by the government in deciding how higher education will be funded.
“It is now 725 days since the Cassells Report was published and the sector cannot continue to deliver without the politicians of Ireland grasping the funding challenge for the university sector,” noted Miley. “Already this year, we have seen a decline in our position in international ranking systems. Without significant additional investment, universities cannot enhance their efforts to improve access and better respond to skills needs across the economy.”
It is hoped that an investment in capital investment will be possible, in order to tackle essential upgrades of equipment and infrastructure to provide for the needs of students. The report notes that the long term neglect of essential repairs has led to a “catalogue of ‘red-letter’ health and safety-related issues to be dealt with in university facilities”. According to the report, failure to allocate this funding will result in extensive medium term costs and deteriorating facilities.
IUA is calling on politicians to “stop kicking the can down the road” and address the issue now. “Failure to do so will damage students’ prospects and threaten the future competitiveness of the economy,” according to Miley.
It is expected the Oireachtas Committee for Education and Skills will soon publish a report to investigate the three options outlined by the government’s higher education funding working group in the Cassells report.