Lack of funding pushing Irish universities down international rankings, says UL president

Professor Kerstin Mey called for 'urgent Government action' on new funding model for sector as she addressed first in-person conferring ceremony to take place at UL for two years
Lack of funding pushing Irish universities down international rankings, says UL president

Alice Creavin, Athlone. who was all conferred with a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Limerick, with 3-month-old Louis.

A lack of adequate funding is pushing Irish universities down the international rankings, the president of the University of Limerick (UL) has claimed.

Professor Kerstin Mey called for “urgent Government action” on a new funding model for the sector as she addressed the first in-person conferring ceremony to take place at UL for two years.

Prof Mey said an opportunity now exists to transform tertiary education based on the lessons learned during the pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic has catalysed a monumental shift to virtual and hybrid learning for the entire, global, higher-education sector. 

Eva Carew, Fedamore, Erica Russell, Castleconnell, and Danicka Hickey, Southill, who were conferred with baachelors of science in midwifery from the University of Limerick.
Eva Carew, Fedamore, Erica Russell, Castleconnell, and Danicka Hickey, Southill, who were conferred with baachelors of science in midwifery from the University of Limerick.

"While this transition has come with challenges to established ways of developing, imparting, and assessing knowledge and skills, it has opened up new opportunities to facilitate learning and engagement,” Ms Mey said.

“We must seize these opportunities and transform tertiary education now to safeguard the resilience of the sector and its ability to meet the challenges of tomorrow.” 

The UL president welcomed the establishment of the new Technological University of the Shannon Midlands Midwest, but said there is little point in creating new universities without sufficiently funding all higher education institutions.

She said an underfunded Irish third-level sector is struggling to compete with the resources afforded to universities around the world. 

Prof Mey said greater resources were needed to support the “extraordinary talent” already in place in Irish universities, as well as to welcome additional students each year over the next decade.

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“It has always been our policy in UL to enhance access and to put respective pathways in place so that everyone who could go to university does go to university — but what do we do when we simply no longer have the space or the right learning environment to meet the needs of our diversifying student community or the adequate means to advance research?

Talent is Ireland’s treasure and a key resource for its shared prosperity. And we must nurture diverse talents. Furthering and safeguarding inclusion, diversity, and equality through higher education and advanced research are vital for the thriving of our communities.

Speaking on a “red-letter” day for UL, Prof Mey offered the new graduates “the warmest of congratulations” on completing a hugely important part of their lifelong learning journey.

Around 1,700 students are graduating from the faculties of Education and Health Sciences, Kemmy Business School, Science and Engineering, and Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in five ceremonies taking place this week.

Sebastien Piox helps straighten the tie of his classmate, Ofama Chiedozie, from Dooradoyle, Limerick. They were conferred with Masters of Science in Public Health degrees.
Sebastien Piox helps straighten the tie of his classmate, Ofama Chiedozie, from Dooradoyle, Limerick. They were conferred with Masters of Science in Public Health degrees.

More than 700 students are due to attend the live on-campus ceremonies, which have been carefully planned to minimise the risk of possible infection.

Ceremonies are limited to graduands only, who have been requested to take an antigen test on the morning of their graduation, with advice that they should not attend the ceremony if they have any symptoms of Covid-19.

All graduands are required to show their Digital Covid Certificate as proof of full vaccination to gain entry to the University Concert Hall, which has been limited to one-third occupancy to allow for social distancing during the ceremonies.

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