The Irish Universities Association (IUA) have suggested the possibility of having to limit University places for Irish students in future years due to funding shortages within the sector. The IUA have attributed this possible move to the growing number of students in the sector, and lowered investment by the government.
Jim MIley, Director General of the IUA, stated: “As numbers grow, universities are fearful that they will be put in a position where places for Irish students would have to be curtailed or replaced by higher fee-paying international students.”
There are currently around 18,500 international students studying within the state, up from around 13,000 in 2014. This is a 42% increase, and comes as the number of overall students in the Irish third level education system is expected to rise by 25% in the next 10 years.
The government has been criticised by the Chairman of the IUA and Dublin City University (DCU) President, Brian MacCraith, who noted that university expansions would not be possible without additional state funding. This comes after Leo Varadkar ruled out increases to the student contribution charge or a student loan scheme as funding options last week.
The concerns were raised at the launch of a study which is recognised as the first major study on the economic impact of universities on the economy. According to the report, Irish universities provide a total of €8.9bn to the economy, and around 21,800 full time jobs.
The study also noted that graduates from Irish universities earn slightly higher wage premiums than other graduates from some of the UK’s most prestigious universities over the course of their lifetime. The study found that the average lifetime net premium for Irish university graduates is around €106,000. This is almost €5,000 above the UK standard, which currently sees graduates attain €103,000.
Trinity students have shown their opposition to the state’s reduction in funding through various protests this year. Students gathered in front square recently to join the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Fund the Future campaign. The protest movement saw the involvement of 200 Trinity students, who joined various institutions in walkouts during March.