4th Feb – Galway City Council pass Unanimous Motion in Support of more funding for Higher Education

The IUA welcomes the unanimous vote from Galway City Councillors which calls on the government to act on the Cassells Report and provide a sustainable funding model for third level education.

Councillors are well placed to understand the real pressures that students and families are under as a result of a decade of under-funding and know how important universities are in their local economies such as Galway.

 

IUA Media Release: Ireland joins Serbia as Europe’s only third level systems ‘in danger’ due to funding shortfall and rising student numbers, European research finds 

Opportunities for Ireland in new European Universities Initiative also outlined by EU Commissioner for Education

Tuesday 29th January – The Irish universities sector is one of just two European countries with a third level system ‘in danger’ resulting from a shortfall in funding and increased student numbers, according to European research presented at a seminar today.

The seminar was organised by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the representative body for Ireland’s seven universities, and featured contributions from a range of leading participants on how Ireland’s system compares to other European third-level systems.

The seminar was also briefed about a new European Universities Initiative, which seeks to strengthen strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encourage the emergence by 2024 of some twenty ‘European Universities. These networks of universities will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities.

Pictured are Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport with Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education and Brian MacCraith, President of DCU and Chair of Irish Universities Association.   

The seminar also heard from speakers including Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.; Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the EU Commission and Chair of UCC Governing Authority; Gemma Irvine of the HEA; Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Research Council; and Thomas Estermann, Director of Governance and Funding at European Universities Association and a leading authority on how European countries compare for third-level funding.

Estermann also presented figures which showed how Ireland is the second-bottom country in the EU ahead only of Croatia for staffing autonomy, the independence of universities to make decisions on staff recruitment.

Thomas Estermann said: “While recurrent funding to Irish universities increased in 2017 and 2018 after almost a decade of cuts, the long-term sustainability of the higher education system in Ireland remains an issue. Funding per student has declined, and third level capital infrastructure is underfunded. Meanwhile restrictions remain on staff recruitment, leaving Ireland near the bottom for the autonomy of its universities to recruit staff. Ireland’s GDP growth suggests possibilities for renewed investment in its universities.”

Commenting on the figures Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “We need to take notice of what is happening in other European countries and how Ireland’s universities system compares in a European context, particularly in terms of funding levels and autonomy. These figures illustrate just how out of step Ireland is with our European neighbours when it comes to funding third level education and supporting the autonomy of our third level institutions. Despite the significant increase in third level students, which now stands at an all-time high, the higher education sector in Ireland remains seriously underfunded. The Government and the Oireachtas must prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education as recommended by the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed Expert Group that reported almost three years ago.”

Speaking about the European University Initiative, Jim Miley said: “Ireland’s universities are already taking advantage of opportunities for collaboration with their European colleagues under the new European Universities Initiative, building on the strong links they enjoy with European-wide institutions through research collaboration, Erasmus and other programmes.”

Earlier this month Trinity College Dublin became the first Irish university to join a new partnership under the European University Initiative. Together with four other prestigious universities across Europe, including the University of Barcelona, Utrecht University, the University of Montpellier and Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, TCD has signed an agreement for the Charm European University (Charm-EU) which will focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals providing an interdisciplinary, challenge-based education.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association 

lia.osullivan@iua.ie; +353 (0)1 676 4948 I Direct: +353 (0)85 7141414 

 

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Note to Editors:

About the European Universities Initiative

The ‘European Universities’ concept has been officially approved by the Ministers responsible for higher education in the European Higher Education Area as the result of the 2018 conference on the topic. It was preceded by the conclusions of the European Council in December 2017. The concept of the European Universities aims to increase the EHEA global competitiveness by supporting close alliances of the EU universities fostering top-quality education, research and innovation.

What is a European University?

Transnational alliances promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education.

In order to achieve this the European Commission has launched a new call to test different cooperation models based on the following principles:

  • An alliance of chosen partners from all types of higher education institution covering a broad European geographic scope;
  • With a co-envisioned long-term strategy focussed on sustainability, excellence and European values;
  • Offering student-centred curricula jointly delivered across an inter-university campus, where a diverse student body can build their own programmes and experience mobility at all study levels;
  • Taking a challenge-based approach where students, academics and external partners can cooperate in cross-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today.

Call for Proposals:

The European Commission has published its 2019 call for proposals for the Erasmus+ programme. The total budget is estimated at nearly €3 billion (€2,733.4 million), marking an increase of approx. 10% compared to 2018.

€30 million of this has been earmarked for European Universities, taking forward this initiative as endorsed by the EU leaders and as part of the EU’s ambitions to build a European Education Area by 2025.

Under Key Action 2 (Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) of the 2019 Erasmus+ call, funding is available to 6 experimental European University alliances to test the concept. 

 

 

 

IUA dismayed at attacks on university autonomy and academic freedom in Hungary -13th December 2018

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is dismayed by the latest developments in Hungary involving attacks on university autonomy and academic freedom, resulting in the Central European University (CEU) moving a large part of its activities out of Hungary from the 2019-20 academic year. The IUA echoes calls from other concerned observers for the Hungarian government to be mindful that freedom from political intervention and pressure is an essential condition for universities to fulfill their critical role in society. It is essential that universities across Europe maintain their autonomy and capacity to speak with an independent voice at a time of increasing uncertainty and fragility in our democracies.

Ends.

 

Please contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414

 

Notes:

 For more information on the issues faced by CEU – https://www.ceu.edu/category/istandwithceu

IUA’s 2017 letter of support to CEU https://www.ceu.edu/sites/default/files/attachment/article/18817/irishuniversitiesassociation.pdf

IUA welcomes publication of Gender Taskforce Equality Action Plan 2018 – 12 Nov 2018

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) today welcomed the Report of the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan 2018-2020. The IUA is fully committed to working with the Minister and Department of Education and Skills to implement the recommendations arising from the Report in order to bring about meaningful and sustainable change in gender equality in universities.

The seven member universities of the IUA have already committed to implementing in full the Taskforce recommendations in the recently published Charter for Universities as part of their active programme on equality, diversity and inclusion. This builds on the progress already achieved in recent years including the achievement of Athena Swan Bronze Award status by all seven universities and rapid progress on gender balancing in the executive management teams and Governing Authorities.

Welcoming the Taskforce Report recommendations, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “The IUA and its member universities are wholly supportive of the Taskforce recommendations and commit to working with the Department of Education to accelerate progress in gender balancing. This is an opportunity for delivering a step-change in gender equality across higher education. It will require concerted effort from all stakeholders to deliver the required change including the Department, funding agencies and the higher education institutions. We want to particularly acknowledge the leadership role of the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor in establishing this Taskforce and driving change on gender equality.”

Universities have made progress in this area including:

  • All seven universities have received Athena Swan Bronze institutional awards. Securing Athena SWAN accreditation, the internationally recognised quality mark for gender equality, is an important enabling process for universities to progress the equality agenda. Currently only 9 institutions in Ireland hold this award.
  • 5 out of 7 university governing authorities are comprised of at least 40% of each gender.
  • 5 out of 7 university executive management teams are comprised of at least 40 % of each
  • All seven universities have appointed, or are in the process of appointing, Vice-Presidents for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This means the equality agenda will be represented at the senior management level in each university.

The IUA looks forward to participating in the soon to be established Working Group to implement the recommendations of the Gender Taskforce.

Ends.

 

 

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan | Head of Communications
Irish Universities Association | lia.osullivan@iua.ie | www.iua.ie  

Tel: +353 (0)1 6764948 | Direct: +353 (0)1 7996022 

Consultation on Strategy for National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning – deadline 30 Nov

the National Forum has begun a consultation on its 2019-2021 Strategy.

The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2018.

The National Forum is currently developing its strategy to the end of 2021. This strategy will inform teaching and learning policy and practice in the years
to come. This means, if you are reading this, it is likely to impact directly upon your work or studies.

The strategy will focus on four key areas:
— The professional development of those who teach
— Teaching and learning within disciplines
— Teaching and learning in a digital world
— Enabling Student success

It is crucial that their strategy is informed by those who learn, teach, lead, develop policy or shape practice in Irish higher education.
We invite you to help us decide how best to focus our resources and attention within these key areas.

To respond, go to 

www.teachingandlearning.ie/Consultation2018

or email your thoughts to consultation@teachingandlearning.ie

 

 

ITN 2019 Application Supports

The Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office has prepared a series of supports to assist in writing a successful application for the ITN 2019 call. These should be used in conjunction with the Guide for Applicants.

ITN 2019 Handbook

An application handbook, incorporating details of common weaknesses in unfunded applications and relevant EU policies to include in your proposal is available for download here:
ITN 2018 Handbook (338 downloads)

 

ITN 2019 Webinars

A four part webinar comprising an overview of the programme as well as webinars devoted to the Excellence, Impact and Implementation sections of the proposal, are available for download below. The slides are also available for download.

 

ITN 2019 Overview and Evaluation Video 

ITN 2019 Overview and Evaluation (slides only) (105 downloads)

 

 

ITN 2019 Excellence Section Video 

ITN 2019 Excellence Section (slides only) (87 downloads)

 

ITN 2019 Impact Video 

ITN 2019 Impact Section (slides only) (83 downloads)  

 

ITN 2019 Implementation and Part B2 Video 

ITN 2019 Implementation and Part B2 (slides only) (74 downloads)  

 

An exhaustive analysis of ESR from the 2018 call compiled by the Net4Mobility+ NCP network is also available for download here:
ESR 2018 Analysis (96 downloads)

 

Seven universities launch ‘Save Our Spark’ campaign, urging public to sign petition to protect Ireland’s third level education system – 15th Oct

IUA warns inaction could lead to a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future

Ireland’s seven universities have today (October 15th, 2018) launched a major campaign aimed at encouraging the public to demand that the Government tackles the funding crisis in third level education. State funding per third level student in Ireland at €5,000 is barely half of what it was a decade ago and a fraction of what it is in other similar-sized European countries.  Budget 2019 last week, while providing a small funding increase, did not address the underlying gap in funding.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) developed the Save Our Spark campaign following more than two years of inaction after the publication of the Cassells Report in which meaningful funding reform for higher education was recommended by a Government-appointed expert group.

The Save Our Spark campaign seeks to raise awareness of the crisis and encourage members of the public to sign a petition urging their local TD or Senator to act now.

From today, a series of adverts will run on national and regional radio stations. The ad will also appear in trains and buses and the Dart across Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as at all seven university campuses. A short video, which was specially created to highlight the crisis, will be promoted across YouTube and key social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Launching the Save Our Spark campaign, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “If the higher education crisis is not addressed by Government urgently, then we risk a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future.  For the first time ever, all seven Irish universities are coming together to demand urgent action on the funding crisis, as we need substantial investment to accommodate the extra students that are expected to enter the system over the next decade.  Our universities are where the Irish spark burns brightest and the key to protecting that spark is securing better state funding. The Government simply can’t continue to ignore this crisis. It’s time to take action now and we’re encouraging students, their parents and everyone with an interest in the future of the country to visit the Save Our Spark website,  sign our petition and contact public representatives about the issue.”

For more information, please visit the Save Our Spark website 

ENDS

For media queries, please contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414

IUA Response to Budget 2019 – State funding per student in third level not addressed by Budget – Oct 9th

No real progress on closing the core funding gap

The government has done very little to address the growing crisis in third level funding in Budget 2019. The allocation of €57m million in ‘extra’ funding on top of existing commitments on national pay increases, while welcome, only allows the system to tread water. The bulk of the money is ring-fenced for specific purposes and does not deal with the core funding gap. The promise of a Human Capital Initiative Fund in two years’ time does nothing to address the current funding shortfall.

State funding per student remains virtually unchanged as the small allocation of extra funds is mopped up by increasing student numbers. State funding per third level student in Ireland at €5,000 is a fraction of that in Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland, countries with whom we are in competition for investment.   

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “It is a serious cause of concern that the government has not prioritised the education of the future workforce of the country. Third level funding is critical to generating the talent pool for the economy. Our future economic competitiveness will be eroded if the public funding deficit is not addressed.

It’s patent nonsense for the Minister to continue to talk about having the ‘best education system in Europe by 2026’ while presiding over a funding regime that only provides a fraction of the funding per student of those best countries in Europe.”

There’s nothing in the Budget to address the major facilities upgrade that’s required in Irish universities. A funding requirement of at least €104 million in 2019 was proposed by the Irish Universities Association as part of a 5-year University Capital Refurbishment Programme after a decade of neglect. Students cannot be expected to perform at their best in sub-standard facilities.

The idea of a skills and talent-focused initiative such as the Human Capital Fund announced in the Budget is welcomed by universities. However, this amounts to no more than a future promise and does nothing to address the needs of the quarter of a million strong student population in our third level system.

The Budget represents a missed opportunity to deal with the long-accepted crisis in third level funding and to act on the recommendations of the Cassells Report for meaningful funding reform.

Ends

 

For further information, contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications lia.osullivan@iua.ie; 085 7141414, 01 6764948

 

State Funding per Student European Comparators

Source: European University Association, Public Funding Observatory 2017

NOTE: The funding per student figure for Ireland in 2019 is unlikely to change significantly as any extra money will be absorbed by the extra students entering the system.