Irish universities contributed nearly €9 billion to the Irish economy in 2017/2018, according to a new report this month from International Economics Consultants Indecon.
The report was published as part of the Irish Universities Association’s (IUA) Save Our Spark campaign, which aims to tackle third-level education’s funding in Ireland.
The campaign was set up after a lack of action more than two years after the publication of the Cassells Report, where meaningful funding reform of universities was recommended by a group appointed by the Government.
Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA, said that the report by Indecon provides compelling evidence for the Government to prioritise a funding model reform for third-level education.
“The role of universities is to produce well-rounded, employable graduates and to provide centres of innovation through their research work.
The €8.89 billion that Irish universities contribute to the economy comes into contrast with the approximately €1 billion in funding the third- level sector gets from the Government each year.
“The Indecon report shows for the first time that, universities not only do that but also generate a cash surplus for the State over the long-term,” Miley says.
“Sunday, April 7, marked the 1,000 day since the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed Expert Group, identified the scale of the funding gap for higher education and made clear recommendations about dealing with it,” Miley added.
Miley also mentions that in the report’s conclusions, Indecon state that there is a net benefit to the exchequer when considering that the tax from jobs resulting from university degrees more than make up the cost of funding third-level education.
“The Indecon Report shows that more State investment in university education isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do.”
The rise in the number of students sitting the Leaving Certificate exams means that more places will need to be available in universities across Ireland to accommodate for the increase.
However, Miley believes that if the funding model stays the way it is, the opposite effect might be achieved instead.
“If the higher education crisis is not addressed by Government urgently, then we risk a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future.”
For the first time ever, all seven Irish universities are coming together to demand urgent action on the funding crisis, as we need substantial investment to accommodate the extra students that are expected to enter the system over the next decade”.
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