The Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomes the publication of the Expert Panel Report on the Review of the Allocation Model for Higher Education Funding. The government has set out its initial response and we look forward to working with the Department of Education and Skills and the Higher Education Authority to develop the detailed implementation of these high level objectives.
However, we note that the Expert Panel has expressed a strong view that these recommendations “can only be implemented if supported by increased investment” and that without such additional investment the higher education system “will struggle to maintain the quality of provision”. The IUA and our member universities have a strong track record of adapting to previous reforms and will positively engage in developing an effective mechanism to achieve the objectives of this reform process.
The IUA is also committed to working with government on the practical implementation of the System Performance Framework measures. It is crucial that this new framework allows universities to maintain optimum flexibility and to continue to innovate in delivery across a broad range of objectives with increasing streams of non-exchequer income.
The national objective of continuing to increase STEM graduates is supported by the IUA. However, it is critical to ensure that the broader contribution of other disciplines is also nurtured given the importance of these graduates for innovation across business, education, health, public service and other key sectors of the economy, as well as the social and cultural life of the country.
Jim Miley, Director General of IUA said: “It is noteworthy that the Expert Panel appointed by the government has clearly underlined the need for an increase in investment in order to support these recommendations for reform. There is now an urgent need for the government to deal with the underlying structural deficit in funding in the higher education sector. It is almost two years since the Cassells report presented three clear funding options, all of which will require an increase in state investment. Our members have delivered a substantial amount of reform and introduced large scale efficiencies over the last decade. This reform agenda will continue but it must be accompanied by meaningful investment measures if we are to deliver on the Minister’s goal of having the best education system in Europe by 2026 given the known increase in higher level student numbers by 30% between now and 2030.”
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The Irish Universities Association (www.iua.ie) is the representative body for the seven universities in Ireland. They are University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, University College Cork.
Extract from Foreword of Expert Panel Report on the Review of the Allocation Model for Higher education Funding
Our recommendations can deliver much-needed change but can only be fully implemented if supported by increased investment. Our engagement with relevant state agencies and employer representative bodies reinforced our analysis that the system is performing well under strain, but without additional investment will struggle to maintain the quality of provision. Ireland cannot continue, as we have been, increasing student numbers without a commensurate increase in investment. Increased investment is essential to align our higher education system with our national ambition for growth and employment and with the wider needs of society. We are convinced that increased investment supported by a reformed approach to allocating funding will deliver real and sustainable benefits for our students, our society and our economy.
Brid Horan, Chair of the Expert Panel