The Irish Universities Association (IUA) have criticised the amount of higher education funding given under the National Development Plan.
The revised NDP includes an investment of almost €2.9 billion in further and higher education infrastructure, research and innovation, over the period of 2021-2025.
Commenting on the funding, the IUA have stated that whilst the funding is certainly a “step in the right direction”, more will be needed to adequately fund the sector.
They said: “The announcement of some additional funding for capital infrastructure in higher education in the revised National Development Plan today is welcomed.”
“However, the overall envelope of funding of €500m, rising to €652m in 2025, is considerably less than what is required by a sector that has been under-funded for many years.”
“The IUA and its member universities look forward to engaging further with Minister Harris and his Department to get clarification on the NDP funding plans for the sector and to continue to push for additional funding for both capital and current spending needs” the statement continued.
IUA Chairman and President of National University of Ireland Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh has said: “The escalating investment needs of our sector, given the background of under-funding and the continued expansion of numbers, are well recognised in the NDP Plan.”
He continued “we now need to see the details of the funding finalised for key provisions in the NDP such as the commitment to increased investment in research through a re-invigorated PRTLI research infrastructure programme”.
“This programme was originally created in An Taoiseach’s time as Minister for Education and we are grateful for his continued support and that of Minister Simon Harris.”
He said that they “eagerly await the funding proposals for the sector in Budget 2022 next week. We are encouraged by the call last week from the Oireachtas Education Committee for a sustainable funding model for the sector”.
“This is now accepted as a critical need for society and our economy, investing in future generations of students through flourishing, well-supported higher education institutions.”
Speaking to Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Research Simon Harris, the Oireachtas Education Committee has said of the reform legislation that: “It is widely recognised that legislative reform will be of limited value unless it is accompanied by a sustainable funding model.”
Due to the increased demand for higher education places, the NDP will seek to assist universities in expanding enrolments, improving on digital infrastructure and flexible provision, as well as investing in new and planned technological universities.
The Department of Further and Higher Education released a press statement yesterday, welcoming the NDP, with Minister of State Niall Collins saying “the NDP published today recognises the importance of investments in further and higher education, research and innovation to Ireland’s future prosperity and resilience”.
“Whether in buildings, equipment or research excellence, investments in this area are fundamentally investments in our people, and in the skills and talent that will enable Ireland to flourish as an economy and society.”
This article was updated on October 6