Irish universities launch campaign seeking increase in government funding

The #SaveOurSpark campaign is aimed at the public to demand that the government increases investment in Ireland’s higher education

Trinity is among Ireland’s seven universities that have launched a campaign to increase government investment in higher education. The “Save Our Spark” campaign is calling on the government to address funding issues in Ireland’s higher education sector if it hopes to achieve its target of having “the best education system in Europe by 2026”, according to the campaign’s website.

“To deliver on these targets, our universities must overcome challenges created by a growing student population, a rapidly changing society, and, above all, serious under-investment by the Irish state,” says the campaign website. The website includes a timeline of the role Irish universities have played in shaping Ireland and the contributions they have made across several fields, including Nobel Prize winners and Trinity Alumni Ernest Walton and Samuel Beckett for their work in physics and literature respectively.

The timeline also highlights two critical dates in the near future. It highlights that by 2021, the Cassells Report estimate that an extra €600m a year is needed to maintain quality in Higher Education, while an increase in students by 2030 is expected to require an additional €1bn investment. By 2030, an additional “40,000 students” are estimated to be in higher education in Ireland, with “25,000 of them” attending one of Ireland’s seven universities, according to the website.

An interactive poll on the website currently has 88% responding “yes” to the question “Should the Government increase investment in higher education even if it means higher taxes?”.

Trinity has had to rely on sources of funding outside of Ireland such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund capital projects in the college. The EIB has provided the financing for its soon to be completed Trinity Business School along with a recent investment of €100m to fund an additional 300 beds in Trinity Hall, the proposed E3 Institute, Trinity’s School of Law, and the refurbishment of the Arts Block.

Cian Mac Lochlainn

Cian Mac Lochlainn is an Economics and Politics student, and a staff writer at Trinity News.