27.09.22 While there are many positive elements to Budget 2023 for higher education, the amount provided for the deficit in core funding at €40m is very disappointing. This represents just 13% of the €307m gap in funding identified by government. We need government to accelerate their response to the funding crisis in the sector in line with the commitment given just 4 months ago in Funding the Future. The provision of €32m to fund extra students arising from demographic growth is welcome. We await further details of the level of funding for these students which must be at the higher rate, consistent with the Funding the Future commitments.
The measures to provide extra supports for students are welcome and much needed. The targeted approach to the student contribution costs from 2023 are particularly welcome. It is essential that government resources are provided to those that need it most if we are to continue to expand access to higher education to those that cannot currently avail of it. The IUA notes the commitment from the Minister that the loss of funding to universities arising from the reduction in student contributions will be fully reimbursed.
The commitment to fully fund national pay awards for the sector is welcomed as are the measures to continue to address the funding of pension deficits in the sector. We also welcome the once-off supports for energy costs and the increases in the Student Support Fund next year. However, the increase of €500 is PhD stipends falls well short of what is needed by our doctoral students who are struggling like everyone else with the cost of living challenges.
Professor Mark Rogers, President of UCD and Chair of the IUA said: “Our students are struggling with the rising cost of living and we welcome the permanent reduction in student contribution for those below certain incomes and the once off measure for all undergraduate students. The benefit of supporting higher education through core funding, research funding and student supports connects directly to society and the national economy. The steps in this budget are welcome but our students and faculty will continue to seek parity with their counterparts in other EU countries.”
Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “There needs to be greater urgency in closing the funding gap in higher education. If the annual rate of funding increase were to continue at the Budget 2023 rate of €40m, it would take 8 years to close the gap. This is unacceptable. An accelerated funding programme is required if we are to make a meaningful impact on student-staff ratios. At a time of major challenge to our economy, investment in higher education and research is absolutely critical to the future supply of our talent and our capacity to compete as a knowledge economy.”
The IUA notes that there is no specific provision for the expansion of much-needed student accommodation in the Budget. It is essential that this is agreed in order to begin to address the crisis currently being experienced by our students.
For Media Queries contact:
Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA 085 7141414
Full IUA Budget Submission can be downloaded here