MORE than 1,100 fewer people are working in third-level colleges than 18 months ago as a result of Government staffing restrictions.
The jobs cuts are mostly a result of vacancies due to retirements not being filled and the non-renewal of contracts for non-permanent staff in almost 30 universities, institutes of technology and other state-funded colleges.
Higher Education Authority (HEA) figures, which take account of retirements due and contracts which will end before the end of 2010, reveal that overall numbers employed in the sector will reduce from 18,923 at the start of 2009 to 17,779.
The figures show that colleges are on course to reach a Government target to cut personnel by 6% from their January 2009 levels by the end of this year. The biggest cuts are in the university sector, with 134, 116 and 115 fewer people employed at Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin.
“The higher education sector is clearly meeting demands for a significant cut in staffing numbers. This is happening at a time when we’re seeing unprecedented growth in numbers entering third level and a significant increase in course provision,” a HEA spokesperson said.
At the same time, schools are being given increased teacher numbers to match rises in pupil population, although the number of students needed to appoint extra teachers has risen.
The Central Applications Office (CAO) has received more than 77,000 applications from prospective third level entrants, a 4% increase on this time last year. The number of students beginning undergraduate programmes has risen 15% in the past two years.
Meanwhile, the HEA has confirmed it is in discussions with management of Trinity College Dublin about its recent approval of promotions for 27 academic staff and that it is not aware of any other colleges awarding pay increases in this way.
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