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Universities warn cost of funding lost to pandemic is €374m

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The number of foreign students will fall due to Covid-19. Stock Image

The number of foreign students will fall due to Covid-19. Stock Image

PA

The number of foreign students will fall due to Covid-19. Stock Image

Universities want the Government to fund more places for Irish students in the autumn to help cover their Covid-19 losses.

The cost of the pandemic to the seven traditional universities will run to €374m over 2020 and 2021, according to an initial assessment.

The predicted losses include €181m in international student fees, €86m in commercial revenues from the closure of facilities such as the The Helix in DCU, €34m in rental income from on-campus accommodation, particularly during the summer, and €37m arising from disruption to research activities.

The financial consequences to the sector of Covid-19 are set out in a document from the Irish Universities Association (IUA), called 'Partners in the Recovery'.

It is seeking a range of Government supports, including a €280m one-off stability fund to deal with the collapse in key income sources and ensure students are appropriately supported.

The IUA says €125m of that should fund places for extra Irish students to partly replace the expected drop in international students and associated fee income, which they estimate could take up to three years to recover.

It would also include €85m for an enhanced access programme targeted at students from disadvantaged backgrounds, more Susi grants and additional resources to support student wellbeing.

The IUA is also seeking a transformation fund to enable universities to respond directly to the skills needs of the economy as the country emerges from the crisis.

It also wants at least €80m a year for a research and innovation fund, which the IUA describes as an essential ingredient of the economic re-boot.

Universities also support the Fianna Fáil proposal for a full Department of Higher Education and Research.

Irish Independent