Universities are in crisis following a decade of underinvestment, according to the Irish Universities Association, which launches its pre-Budget submission today. It points to Ireland losing its only top-100 ranked university in the latest international ranking system, where Trinity College Dublin fell 16 places to 104th. The association also says state third-level funding per student has halved in the last ten years.
The Director General of the Irish Universities Association, Jim Miley, said there has been a persistent lack of funding in third level and universities for the last decade. "Essentially we have a legacy of a really high-quality university system in Ireland, and effectively this lack of funding is now slowly strangling that system. We're calling on the Government today to take the first significant steps to address that," he said.
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The Irish Universities Association is calling for an investment in core funding and capital upgrades. "Core funding has dropped from about €9,000 per student to €4,500 now, while student registration fees have gone up and universities have squeezed extra efficiencies out of the system," Mr Miley said. But he added that that situation can not go on.
"We will also have a big increase in student numbers in future years, so we need the core funding for the day-to-day operational business of the universities to be addressed," Mr Miley said. He added there has been "almost no investment in refurbishment of buildings and facilities and equipment over the last decade and we now have red-letter issues in relation to health and safety issues, as well as many other deficiencies that need to be addressed".
With regard to the introduction of a student loan scheme, which was mooted in a Government report into third-level funding, the Universities Association's director general said "student loans are only a small part of the solution". "This is about the country's future, it's not a charity, it's actually an investment in our future and we think if the State steps up to the plate first, if there are other options we'll be delighted to consider them." he added.
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