Graduates should fund their former universities - says college president
New NUI Galway president Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh wants to see a culture of alumni giving back to their universities to help fund the education of current third-level students.
He told the Irish Independent there was a "great tradition" of past students gifting contributions to their universities in North America.
"I would be having a conversation with our alumni to see how they could support the current generation of students who need their help and the university which needs their help," he said. "It is more around philanthropy and gift-giving, that being more of a tradition in other countries than it is here.
"Internationally, particularly in North America, the capacity and inclination to give is significant, which means they are competing on a different scale, if you like, because of that. It's more about thinking around how graduates of universities can contribute back given their capacity or given their means."
He acknowledged that the ordinary taxpayer, who could be a past-student, was contributing to the education system already.
But he called on people to give smaller, significant donations if they had the means - or else "people who have done well and who have capacity to give on a large scale".
As it stands, the current third-level fee system in Ireland means that a little under half of students' tuition is covered by taxpayers' money.
Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said current university funding was "insufficient by international norms", which potentially made it harder for Irish students to compete. He believes that more investment from the Government is needed.
"We need to find ways in society to invest more in universities and part of that is potentially fees, but I'm not sure that is the only part," he said.
"The second part is investment of the State and there is more needed there."