Report suggests linking third-level funding to performance targets

Report suggests linking third-level funding to performance targets

Funding for third-level colleges should be linked to performance targets, a new report being published today will recommend.

An expert group on higher education will propose that institutions seeking additional funding be assessed on access rates for disadvantaged groups, flexible learning and the development of “innovative responses” to skills gaps.

The group, chaired by Peter Cassells, was established to develop a long-term financial strategy for the sector.

Targets being considered to accompany future funding include:

  • Providing for 50,000 upskilling and reskilling places over the next five years to meet identified skills gaps
  • Increasing participation in higher education by the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups by over 7%
  • Introducing targets relating to improvements on gender equality
  • Increasing the numbers of entrants studying on a flexible basis (online, part-time) by 25%
  • Increasing the number of students undertaking a work placement or work-based project as part of their course by 25%
  • The long-delayed report will also outline alternative funding models for colleges, including a student loan system.

The proposed loan scheme would see undergraduate tuition costs increasing to €4,000 a year - up from the current €3,000 annual contribution charge - or €16,000 for a four-year course.

Students would have the option of repaying loans immediately or after graduation, once their income reaches a certain level.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton will outline details of the plan at the launch of the report this morning.

In a statement, he said the higher education sector is “at the heart of delivering on massive social and economic challenges”.

These, he said, include “better life opportunities for people from disadvantaged areas, training the skilled workers needed for a growing economy, and delivering major research and innovation projects to help solve the big problems of our time”.

“There are no easy solutions here but I believe that if we are to prosper and grow as a society and an economy we must build a consensus and make some big decisions in this area,” Mr Bruton said.

“‘Do nothing’ would be to fail future generations. I look forward to discussing these issues with colleagues in the Oireachtas and other stakeholders and building a plan that can deliver on our goals in this area."

The Irish Federation of University Teachers has meanwhile called for increased direct government funding for colleges, pointing to increased student numbers and worsening student-staff ratios.

“This report should serve as a major wake-up call to government and the political system generally that education funding can no longer be ignored," the union said.

“Countries like France, Austria and Sweden and already reversing education cuts introduced during the recession. The Department of Education here should do the same."


More in this Section

Around 98% of Covid-19 tests showing negative, says HSEAround 98% of Covid-19 tests showing negative, says HSE

Four deaths and 57 new cases associated with Covid-19 confirmedFour deaths and 57 new cases associated with Covid-19 confirmed

North reports one new Covid-19 death and 25 extra casesNorth reports one new Covid-19 death and 25 extra cases

Testing times: The science of fighting Covid-19Testing times: The science of fighting Covid-19


There is just one universally heard buzz word in the wine world these days and that is ‘sustainability’.Wine List: The top sustainable wines to buy right now

Esther N McCarthy finds funky fabric and Bantry baskets as well as exploring virtual galleries. Wish List: In pursuit of funky fabric and Bantry baskets

Pubs have been closed across this island for over two months. Can you imagine if they were closed for 14 years? To mark the centenary of the introduction of Prohibition in the US, Robert O'Shea selects examples of its cultural legacyWhat did Prohibition ever do for us?

Des O'Driscoll looks at some of the top picks on the TV today.TV highlights: A new 'make-under' dating show and Kevin McGahern paints celeb protraits

More From The Irish Examiner