Third-level funding stands at €138m less than what is needed to cater for rapidly expanding student numbers, Ireland’s seven universities have warned.
Despite increasing by €189m since 2015, inadequate State funding is directly impacting Irish higher-level education “as evidenced by a fall in international rankings”, according to the Irish Universities Association (IUA).
A ‘Cassells Scorecard’ carried out by the association, analysing funding, pay restoration and pay awards over the last five years, found Irish universities are receiving €138m less than the €225m recommended by the Cassells report on third-level funding.
“If this Government fails to act, the quality of our third-level education sector will continue to be threatened and the gap between Ireland and our competitors will continue to grow,” said IUA director Jim Miley.
“In the last two years we have seen modest increases in funding to third-level education but none to the scale required to address the past decade of under-investment and the dramatic fall in funding per student.“We have already seen the impact of this underfunding with Irish universities falling in the international rankings. This investment is urgent now that our student population will increase by more than 25% in the next decade.”
In its pre-budget submission, the IUA is calling for an additional €377m investment in funding for operations, research, and capital.
This includes a €117m investment in core funding, as it believes this is the minimum needed to fix quality-related and access issues.
The group is also calling for a further €80m by 2025 to support investigator-led research, and a further €210m in capital funding for universities by 2020, the submission states.
“It is untenable to expect universities to adequately prepare students for the workforce in the 2020s with facilities and equipment that are now decades and, in some cases, more than half a century old,” said Mr Miley.