Wednesday 17 January 2018

Editorial: We face harsh lessons on third-level funding

College students (stock photo)
College students (stock photo)
Europe team captain Paul McGinley poses with the Ryder Cup trophy after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


Let us speak candidly. Families with students pursuing third-level education courses are paying fees. They are called something else these days - but they are fees for all that. Most students pay €2,750 per year - and expect to pay €3,000 next year.

Many people in that situation will shudder at the mention of a review of how we fund third-level education. History teaches us that this can only mean one thing - the squeezed middle being further squeezed.

Let's hold that thought fast, as we look at another reality. Ireland's third-level colleges are seriously under-funded. The economic crisis has enforced continual cuts in state funding and the growing population has meant more students. Funding has fallen by one-third in the past eight years - from €1.4bn per year in 2008 to over €900m.

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