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.

MORNING BRIEFS - New bankruptcies fell by 10% last year to 473, while there was a 40% rise in the number of applications for insolvency solutions. The 2017 Annual Report from the Insolvency Service of Ireland, which is set to come before Cabinet today, also shows 521 people exited bankruptcy during the year, while 118 family homes were transferred back into the ownership of people who had been bankrupt.

*** Consumer sentiment here weakened in June to its lowest level in 13 months, according to the latest the KBC/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index. Those surveyed voiced concern about growing risks to the global economy, including Brexit, and the impact of higher housing and fuel costs.

*** C&C says the recent warm weather and the World Cup have helped to boost sales of its brands, including Bulmers cider, which has now returned to growth. In a trading update ahead of its AGM today, the drinks group also said sales in Scotland, where Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol was introduced in May, are in line with expectations.

*** With a strike still looming next week for Irish-based Ryanair passengers, its UK low-cost rival EasyJet has added to fears over a summer of travel chaos, revealing it cancelled nearly 1,300 flights last month. Around 900 of these were due to French and Italian strike action. The figures come just a day after Ryanair said air traffic control strike action on the continent left more than 210,000 of its passengers hit by flight cancellations in June.

*** China has warned the US is "opening fire" on the world with its threatened tariffs, saying it will respond the instant US measures go into effect. US tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports are due to kick in on Friday. President Donald Trump has already threatened to escalate the trade conflict with tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese goods if China retaliates.

*** End-to-end IT service provider Paradyn has said it will invest €4m in its Dublin and Cork offices, which would see the company double its workforce to 80. Paradyn, which manages over 30,000 users across 300 business and public sector customers, is a newly created company formed after the merger of Exigent Networks, Irish Telecom, and Netforce.