Structural deficit in funding higher education still remains.
The investment in higher education and research announced in Budget 2022, while welcome, is not sufficient to address the core funding deficit in the sector. The provision of dedicated funding for extra places and for student supports is welcome. However, a large proportion of the remaining funds for the sector will be absorbed by ‘stand still’ funding requirements and a contribution to long-standing pension deficits.
The Programme for Government states that ‘investment in education and research is an investment in our future. It is an investment that ensures that Ireland prospers socially and economically, not just today but in the years to come’. The IUA agrees.
It is indeed welcome that a substantial part of the €200m package will be used to ‘strengthen the financial position of universities’ in 2021 and 2022 by providing for long-standing sectoral pension deficits. But, while such funding will improve university balance sheets, it will not provide any extra investment in teaching and/or research activities in 2022.
We also welcome the Minister’s statement that “we are committed to investing in the future and the sustainability of higher education – we have really significant teaching, learning, research and development capacity in our education institutions that can make a big difference in people’s lives, and it’s vital that we support that”.
In the light of this commitment, we are still awaiting the report on future investment received by the Minister some months ago to be brought to government and we are disappointed that it is not included in this Budget.
IUA Chair and President of NUI Galway, Prof. Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said:
“At a time when corporate tax advantages are diminishing as a means of attracting investment to Ireland, talent is increasingly cited as our remaining social and economic advantage. The government should, therefore, be doubling down on its investment in talent and in research and innovation to ensure the future of a good society and the growth of the economy which supports it.
“Given its importance for our tomorrow, it is very disappointing that investment in research and innovation, acknowledged to be well behind our key competitors, has not been prioritised today. A substantial part of the now decade-long shortfall in investment remains. If we are serious about being globally competitive in terms of talent and research, such investment is now critical for so many areas of society, including research in health, housing and climate change.”
He continued, “We are impatient for our students and for Ireland and therefore hope that the government will address this investment directly in the near future when it considers the future funding report on the sector.”
Our universities understand the overall Budgetary challenges faced by the government but believe that this Budget is a missed opportunity to invest in the future talent for the country represented by the next generation.
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Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA firstname.lastname@example.org 085 7141414