Rising student numbers and cuts to funding at third-level are putting the quality of Irish graduates and the third-level system at risk, according to the Higher Education Authority.

In a HEA report on the third-level sector published today, it found that staff-student ratios are already above OECD norms with more than 19 students to each member of staff, compared to 15 or 16 internationally.

Continuing to manage rising numbers, with reduced resources, is one of a number of stresses the report identified.

The report found that universities and Institutes of Technology have coped well until now in the face of reduced resources, however, the HEA said such risks will need careful management.

The report, which compares the Irish third-level system with others internationally, also notes a rise in the number of people dropping out of Diploma and Ordinary degree courses.

On a positive note, the report found that among EU countries Ireland has the fourth highest percentage of Maths, Science and Computing graduates.

The report also noted that 75% of Irish employers said they are satisfied with graduate skills.