Thursday 24 August 2017

Higher education is heading for crisis unless we learn from funding fiasco

A fair and effective way of funding adult education must be implemented urgently - or everyone will suffer

As people who have never attended third level institutions contribute to general taxation, this amounts in effect to the poor subsidising the rich
As people who have never attended third level institutions contribute to general taxation, this amounts in effect to the poor subsidising the rich
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Most people would agree in principle that taxpayers' money should not be used to subsidise private gain. Yet, to a very great extent, that is what we do in Ireland when it comes to third level education.

Young adults who go to college either pay nothing towards their fees, or pay only a fraction of the cost of the investment in their future earning power in the shape of the approximately €3,000 student charge. The lion's share of the cost which institutions do not raise themselves is covered by general taxation.

As people who have never attended third level institutions contribute to general taxation, this amounts in effect to the poor subsidising the rich. To see why that is the case, one only need consider the large gap in incomes between those with lots of education and those with little (discussed in greater detail in the boxed section).

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