Monday 16 January 2017

Student loans based on income are fairest solution to third-level funding conundrum

James McDermott

Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30

'The link between the successful completion of third-level education and higher earnings is well established, meaning that the State will eventually recoup its investment in respect of the vast majority of students whose college education it funds' Stock photo: Depositphotos
'The link between the successful completion of third-level education and higher earnings is well established, meaning that the State will eventually recoup its investment in respect of the vast majority of students whose college education it funds' Stock photo: Depositphotos

When asked to sum up the state of the Russian economy in one word, President Boris Yeltsin responded: "Good." When asked to sum it up in two words, Yeltsin replied: "Not good."

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I take a similar view in relation to the funding of higher education in Ireland. On the one hand the participation rate in third-level education has risen from 20pc in 1980 to 58pc today, which is clearly a good thing. However, student numbers are projected to rise by 30pc in the next decade, creating a black hole in funding for our colleges that even Stephen Hawking would struggle to find an adequate explanation for. This is clearly not good.

To make matters worse for our political classes, this funding crisis is largely a self-inflicted wound.

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