Third-level staffing down but student numbers soar
MORE than 1,000 jobs have been lost in higher education over the past two years -- at a time when student numbers are rising rapidly.
New figures show that at the end of March this year, the third-level colleges had a full-time staffing quota of 20,084, down from 21,149 at the end of December 2008.
But over the same period the number of full-time students went up from around 145,000 to 155,000, and is still rising amid warnings of further cuts in staffing levels.
The Higher Education Authority has written to the heads of third-level colleges, alerting them to the possibility of more staff reductions next year. Chief executive Tom Boland said they can also expect further reductions in core allocations from the State.
His letter prompted an angry reaction from the Irish Federation of University Teachers, which said that it beggared belief that the Department of Education and Skills could even be considering more cuts.
General Secretary Mike Jennings warned that the union would not agree to any compulsory job losses.
Dublin City University President Ferdinand von Prondzynski said that the letter came at a time when universities had already lost 6pc of total staff numbers over two years while admitting additional students.
"We will be under further pressure to add to the student numbers while losing yet more money and having fewer staff to teach them," he said.
Meanwhile, an international study has shown that universities in Ireland and Latvia were suffering the worst cuts in government funding in Europe.
This year's reduction of 9.4pc in state aid followed cuts of 5.4pc last year in Ireland.
Only Latvia, where the IMF and the World Bank demanded drastic cuts in education, suffered a worse fate, with cuts of 48pc in 2009 and 18pc this year.