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Government must commit to increased public investment in Higher Education

13 June 2018

Statement by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called on the Government to commit to increased funding in higher education in Budget 2019.

This comes as the Coalition for Publicly-Funded Higher Education have published opinion poll research that shows that 91% of people want to see increased public investment in higher education.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“Fine Gael need to make a significant investment in higher education in the upcoming 2019 Budget. Students, parents, and higher education staff have all faced uncertainty when it comes to the future funding of higher education for some time now as Ministers Bruton and Mitchell-O’Connor hide behind the Cassells’ Report, rather than make any decisions.

“When it comes to higher education, we need to be ambitious and remove financial barriers to access education. A deferred payment scheme, which is an option proposed in the Cassells’ Report, would be disastrous for students in Ireland. The Ministers in the Department of Education need to make it clear what a future funding model would look like so students and their families can adequately plan.

“Workers are often forgotten about in the debate around higher education funding. A lack of funding in the higher education sector has seen a race to the bottom for terms and conditions for teaching staff in our colleges, institutes of technology and universities. Precarious employment has become the norm and staff are more likely to be poorly paid and more vulnerable. 

"Unless the Minister for Education addresses the many issues within the third level sector, it will remain stagnant. There is a high level of high quality research and teaching in our higher education institutions, but without proper investment, the sector is unable to flourish. 

“Budget 2018 illustrated a poverty of vision for the third-level sector. With Ireland emerging from a deep recession it is time for us to state what truly matters to us. We have a real opportunity in Budget 2019 to make up the shortfall in higher education funding which will benefit society as a whole.”