Third-level staff cuts equal to total of UCD workforce

Staff cuts in third-level colleges across Ireland from 2008 to 2013 are the equivalent of stripping UCD, the country’s largest university, of its entire workforce.

The number of staff has reduced by 12 per cent in universities and institutes of technology.

This decrease in staff numbers comes at the same time as an increased demand for college places. Enrolments have risen by 15 per cent, as the staff-student ratio has reduced by 27 per cent over the last six years.

Third-level institutions are also experiencing reduced state support for day-to-day costs and building projects. State spends per student have reduced from €8,897 to €5,212 since 2008.

In 2013, the core grant funding for each higher education institution in Ireland was cut by an average of €3.7 million, according to figures from the Higher Education Authority.

University of Limerick had the largest reduction in funding among universities. Funding reduced by 16 per cent, from €74.7 million in 2012 to €62.5 million in 2013.

Dundalk IT saw the biggest reduction in funding among ITs with funding reduced by almost 20 per cent, from €26.1 million in 2012 to €21.1 million in 2013.

Institute of Technology Carlow was the only third-level institution to have its funding increased, by 1.46 per cent.

Funding for 2014/2015 will not be allocated until the end of the year. However, Minister Ruairi Quinn said in the 2014 budget that funding to the sector of higher education will be €939 million for the year. This is €73 million less than in 2013.

Colleges are relying on research funding, endowments and international students for income. In many cases, state funding makes up less than half of a college’s revenue.

President of DCU Briain MacCraith told The College View in a previous interview that DCU is looking into a student loan system, such as those used in the US and South America. The funding model allows students to pay a fixed percentage of their salary for ten years after they graduate. The graduate would only pay the loan while working.
MacCraith said the university is “operating at the edge of sustainability” and cuts have forced student services to be reduced, such as cutting modules and increasing health centre fees.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has already gone back on his pre-election promise that the student charge would not increase. It has increased by €250 a year and will continue to increase to €3000 in 2015.

Laura Colgan

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