Years of cuts come to end for third-level
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
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.