IFUT criticise lack of higher education funding in today’s budget

Federation sees “rainy day fund” as sign that funding crisis was “ignored”

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has today criticised Budget 2019 for what it sees as a lack of attention to higher education. The federation noted that “it is incredible that this year’s Budget set aside €1.5bn for a future rainy day fund while higher education is drowning in an existential funding crisis that is being ignored”. Budget 2019 was announced this afternoon by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

General Secretary of IFUT Joan Donegan also called for clarity relating to the €150m designated for “higher education, further education, training and research”. She called for information on the “specific amount for universities within the broad allocation”. According to Donegan “it would appear to fall far short, yet again, of the resources highlighted as necessary in the specially commissioned 2016 Cassells Report”.

She went on to add that an increase of 0.1% to the National Training Fund Levy, first announced last year, would “further undermine academic freedom and flexibility at university level, particularly in the context of severely restricted state funding”. She acknowledged that this “risks impacting on academic standards and ratings”.

In previous years, IFUT has called for the government to set aside a portion of corporation taxes to maintain “top class education for the tens of  thousands of young people who enter third-level each year”.

She concluded by saying that “it is quite staggering that the government has opted to prioritise setting aside such a large portion of ‘historically high levels of Corporation tax’ for a potential future ‘rainy day’ while higher education is drowning in underfunding right now.”

This comes as the government today launched Budget 2019. The investment will relate to higher education, further education and research. The budget also outlined a 0.1% increase in the National Training Fund levy. The government has allocated a total of €10.8bn to the Department of Education and Skills for the upcoming year.

The Union of Students (USI) in Ireland have also criticised the creation of a rainy day fund, with USI President Síona Cahill noting that students have “felt the brunt of cuts to grants, lack of beds to lay their heads, and the second highest fees in Europe”. The union met outside Leinster House this morning to protest the fund.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh Law student, and a former Senior Reporter.