Wednesday, June 11th 2014
Following the publication of the Higher Education Authority (HEA)’s System Performance Report today launched by the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welcome the positive findings of the Report for the Higher Education sector, but warn that the considerable pressures and stresses identified in the report must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Minister Quinn also announced a new review group is to be established to examine options for the future funding of Higher Education, in response to the funding challenges set out in today’s Report.
The USI will be making a Pre-Budget submission to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform before the end of the week, which will set out proposals for additional public investment in the Higher Education system.
USI President Joe O’Connor said:
“The USI welcome the Minister’s announcement of the establishment of a review group on the future funding of Higher Education in Ireland. It is a group that USI intend to fully engage with, as it is crucially important that an open and frank discussion about future funding options for Higher Education in Ireland takes place as a priority.
In the context of the findings in today’s HEA System Performance Report, it is clear that there are considerable pressures on the Higher Education system, and it is reasonable to assume that further increased demand without matching additional funding will impact on the quality of outcomes the system is able to deliver.
The under-funding of the sector manifests itself in a number of ways- increasing rents, fees and cost of college coupled with reduced student supports is a considerable threat to access to Higher Education. The increased staff-student ratio provides a significant threat in attempting to maintain and enhance quality standards.
The Report identifies that the sector has coped exceptionally well in recent years given the vast reduction in resources per student, but in short, this is unsustainable and cannot be allowed to continue. It is also abundantly clear the vital role that Higher Education must continue to play in the future economic recovery of this country.
The Discussion Paper commissioned by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) on Higher Education clearly sets out our preferred course of action to address this funding crisis– A roadmap in line with economic recovery to provide for increased public funding to HE.
Higher Education is both a public good and a sound strategic investment for this State, and for these reasons it is something we should seek to prioritise even in this constrained economic environment.”
Please see the USI Higher Education Infographic below.