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Universities call for €538m in State funding

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Universities say they need €538m in State support next year, including €102m for additional Covid-related costs.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) has set out details of its funding requirements in a pre-Budget submission, which says the sector is facing a combined deficit of €200m next year.

Greater investment in student welfare, on top of what was already announced in July to help students cope with college life during the pandemic, is one of the key elements of the submission.

IUA director general Jim Miley said they need to support students to deal with the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in due to consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other Covid costs include €20m to underpin public health measures, €15m for extra licensing and software costs arising from the shift to online, and €32m for extra student places.

The IUA is also seeking €246m for initiatives designed to boost the national recovery, €140m for research and innovation and €50m to address the deficit in core funding since the financial crisis of a decade ago.

The submission points to how "the financial impact of the pandemic has further highlighted the underlying precarious funding environment facing the sector and related concerns around long-term sustainability".

It says all seven universities are projecting significant financial deficits for the current academic year, with combined deficits projected at €200m, "further exacerbated by the fact that the sector currently has combined borrowings of €800m".

Irish Independent