News & Media

Budget does not deal with any of the long-term structural issues in higher education

13 October 2020

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Higher Education, Innovation and Research
Annie Hoey
  • Nothing in this budget deals with precarious work

Budget 2021 does not deal with any of the long-term structural issues in the higher education sector according to Labour Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Senator Annie Hoey.

Senator Hoey said: 

“While the investment in Further and Higher Education within Budget 2021 is welcome this budget does not deal with any of the long-term structural issues in the higher education sector, particularly the ongoing underfunding crisis. 

“The Cassells Report setting out the options for Higher Education funding was published nearly 5 years ago, and successive Governments, including this one, have kicked the can down the road on higher education funding by failing to implement one of the recommendations.

“There is also no mention of dealing with the issue of precarious work within this Budget. The further and higher education sector has seen some of the biggest increases in precarious work in recent years. Zero hours contracts, term time only, an impossibility to get permanent and pensionable jobs have become common place in academia. The Budget makes no reference to dealing with and eliminating this practice in academia by offering additional funding for staffing.

“The Financial Support Fund of €50 million to provide financial assistance to third level students in light of Covid-19 is welcome but the Minister needs to outline exactly how this funding will be distributed and what the money will be used for.

“The increase in SUSI grant funding and in particular the additional funding for the doubling of Postgraduate SUSI grants and the additional capital funding are welcome, however the devil will be in the detail.

“Higher Education has never received as much investment. However, it is disappointing that the money does not deal with any of the long-term structural funding issues in the sector. Students will still have to pay a student contribution of €3000, the highest in the European Union, and this Budget does not address that because it fails to deal with the underfunding of the Higher and Further Educations sector. In our alternative Budget Labour would reduce the student contribution by €1000 to give students and their families a break.