Business Budget 2017

Thursday 29 June 2017

Years of cuts come to end for third-level

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welcomed the reintroduction of postgraduate grants, but emphasised that it would benefit only 1,100 students. Picture posed
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welcomed the reintroduction of postgraduate grants, but emphasised that it would benefit only 1,100 students. Picture posed
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Third-level colleges are getting their first increase in State funding in almost a decade.

After years of cuts that saw spending on higher education reduced by 33pc, an additional €36.5m is being made available.

It is part of a funding package worth €160m committed to higher education over the next three years. This is separate from the consideration of a plan on long-term funding, arising from the Cassells report.

While the €36.5m is well short of what the sector sought, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomed it as a signal of intent to develop a more comprehensive long-term funding model.

However, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has described it as "like offering a wet sponge to a man dying of thirst".

Some of the money will be used to improve staff-student ratios, with discussions ongoing about the relaxation of recruitment controls. The deterioration in staffing has been a major contributor to the slide of Irish universities in international league tables.

The allocation also includes €4m to reinstate maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged post-graduate students, from September 2017.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welcomed the reintroduction of postgraduate grants, but emphasised that it would benefit only 1,100 students.

Irish Independent

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