Ibec, ICTU, USI, American Ireland and British Irish Chamber of Commerce support Irish Universities Association calls for action on funding
Saturday April 27th: The top leadership of the employers union, trades unions, student unions and industry representative bodies have today called for government action on the long-awaited reform of the funding of Irish university and higher education. Writing in a special Irish Universities Association (IUA) supplement published today, the leaders of Ibec, ICTU and USI have been joined by the American Ireland and British-Irish Chambers of Commerce in a concerted call for government action on the third level funding crisis.
In a first such collaborative call for action, the cross-sectoral coalition highlights the risk to Ireland of continuing inaction on the funding crisis and calls for an urgent response from government.
Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy describes the third level funding deficit as “an invisible crisis” that, he says “has already damaged our international reputation to attract research and business investment and is silently eroding our competitive edge”.
Patricia King, General Secretary of ICTU says that “investing in education and our universities is about investing in national ambition and greater opportunity for all.” She argues that “the most sustainable and equitable solution would be to move, over time, to funding the sector predominantly from the public purse.”
Her views are echoed by USI President, Siona Cahill who says that “education which is a public good should be publicly funded”. The USI President points to the failure to increase funding for student grants since 2012 which she states “is a disgrace and makes education elitist and inaccessible for so many.”
John McGrane, Director General of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce warns that “consistent underfunding will not only impact on the quality of our higher education system, but also jeopardise potential FDI draw to the country. To secure our future economic success, we must act now,” he says.
American Ireland Chamber of Commerce CEO, Mark Redmond, says that a strategic decision on one of the recommended funding options by the 2016 Cassells report is required. He says the funding regime should “Provide a sustainable system for funding third level, promote inclusiveness between social backgrounds and be equitable regarding funding full-time, part-time and postgraduate pathways to attainment.”
These calls for action on funding follow the recent publication by the IUA of the Indecon report on the Impact of Irish Universities. The independent Indecon report found that the seven universities represented by the IUA contribute €8.9 billion annually to the economy. Crucially, Indecon have shown that the State makes a net financial gain from its investment in universities based on the increased tax take from higher-earning graduates resulting from their university education.
Commenting on the research Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “This report shows us in no uncertain terms that universities not only produce well-rounded, employable graduates but also generate a cash surplus for the State over the long-term. When we consider this along with the 50% increase in student enrolments since 2000, surely this provides a compelling case for the Government and the Oireachtas to prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education. Without action our universities will face an intolerable strain on the already under-resourced system and opportunities afforded to today’s students may be curtailed for many current and future primary and secondary students”.
For more information contact:
Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
firstname.lastname@example.org; +353 (0)1 676 4948 I Direct: +353 (0)85 7141414
Notes to editors
Indecon Research Economists were appointed by the Irish Universities Association, following a competitive tender process, to cover the combined impact of the seven universities represented by the IUA – Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick.
The report is available to read in full at www.saveourspark.ie/universities-impact