News & Media

Minister needs to address funding shortfall caused by fewer international students

26 August 2020

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Higher Education, Innovation and Research
Annie Hoey

The Minister for Further and Higher Education needs to address the funding shortfall that will be caused by any reduction in the number of non-EU international students coming to Ireland to study due to the Covid-19 crisis according to Labour Higher Education Spokesperson, Senator Annie Hoey.

Senator Hoey said:

“Non- EU International students have been used to plug the funding gap in higher education for many years. While international students are still expected to come it is expected that will be a reduction in numbers compared to previous years.

“Many higher education institutes depend on the funding derived from the high fees paid by these non-EU students to plug funding gaps in their budget. The Minister needs to clarify how any shortfall in funding that would otherwise come from international students will be addressed. Will the Department step in and subsidise third level institutes or will the institutes themselves have to address the funding shortfall?

“Higher Education Institutes have pivoted towards international students in order to fund themselves in recent years and the Covid crisis has again highlighted this flaw in the system. The Government cannot continue to kick the can down the road on higher education funding. The Cassell’s report which sets out several options to fund higher education has been gathering dust for nearly five years.

“Our current model for funding higher education is unsustainable and this has been exposed again by the pandemic. The dependency of higher education institutes on funding from non-EU international students is unsustainable particularly in relation to the public health situation. The Minister needs to address the funding shortfall caused by fewer students coming here from abroad and he needs to implement one of the recommendations of the Cassell’s report.