Media Release: 2025 is the last chance for Government to advance its €307m commitment to closing the higher education funding gap - IUA Pre-Budget Submission

Additional funding needed to cover public sector pay awards as student-staff ratios, a key determinant of student experience, worsen. National Training Fund surplus must be used to invest in skills

28.06.24: The Irish Universities Association (IUA) in its Pre-Budget Submission has urged the Government to accelerate the closure of the funding gap in higher education.

The €307m funding shortfall identified by Government in May 2022 has been exacerbated by a failure to provide sufficient funds for national pay awards agreed by Government. Almost all of the extra €100m provided over the last two years under Funding the Future has been eroded by an under-funding of pay awards, leaving universities materially short of funds to pay existing staff.

The IUA is calling for:

  • A €92m supplementary budget in 2024 to cover the costs of existing staff;
  • A further €171m in Budget 2025 to continue covering existing staff costs;
  • And at least €120m additional Funding the Future allocation.

This would still leave almost one-third of the €307m funding gap after three successive budgets.

Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “Each university in the State is faced with a shortage of funds to pay for existing staff this year. Collectively, this amounts to €92m. That €92m is what is needed just to stand still with a further €171m required in 2025 to break even. It is now absolutely critical that the Government fully funds the pay awards negotiated by them as part of the national pay round. 

“The funding of the existing pay award will only maintain the current level of student-staff ratio which seriously lags the EU average. It is critical that the necessary investment is made to enable universities to pay for the staff required to maintain a quality higher education for their students and to deliver the necessary support services. Under-pinning the quality and resilience of higher education is mission-critical to Ireland’s competitiveness”. 

The IUA Pre-Budget Submission (Budget 2025_IUA Submission_June2024) also calls for action on utilising the surplus in the National Training Fund (NTF) which has now ballooned to over €1.5billion. The IUA calls on the government to act on the commitment made by Minister Paschal Donohoe in last year’s Budget to address the burgeoning NTF surplus. According to the Submission, “It is inconceivable that the NTF surplus would be allowed to continue to grow while provisions for national skills needs go unmet”. 

The IUA is calling on the recently appointed Minister for Further, Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, to urgently address the funding needs in order to secure the pipeline of future talent that is fundamental to the needs of the economy.


Contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA     085 7141414