Government called upon to provide more funding for higher education

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) are calling on the government to “substantially increase” funding following the release of a new report.

The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Recovery (OECD), revealed that Ireland ranked last out of 40 countries for the proportion of national wealth spent on education. Its spend per student was also 4% below the EU average and “significantly” below peer economies.

“If we take GDP as a measure of national wealth, it is unacceptable that a rich country like Ireland remains at the bottom of the global rankings,” Eamonn Dennehy, President of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), said.

“The pandemic has dramatically underlined how important schools are to children, families and communities. It has also demonstrated that large classes, insufficient staffing, inadequate accommodation and ventilation are undermining the capacity of schools to provide a safe environment for quality education,” Dennehy said in a statement.

The IUA’s outlined proposals for an investment education package includes €418m in extra core funding, €64m for support for disadvantaged students and €37.5m to help with marketing Ireland’s third level education to international students.

“Investment in both the talent and innovation needs of the country is fundamental to the successful national recovery now and into the future,” said Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA.

“We have seen the proven value of advanced knowledge, research and science during COVID. The sector is now ready to play its part in the recovery,” he said in a statement.

While the report does show what Ciaran O hOgartaigh, Chair of the IUA deemed “decades of under-funding” in education, there were some positives noted.

Irish adults “with a bachelor’s degree earn on average 81% more than those with upper secondary education, compared to 44% more on average across OECD countries, ” according to the report.

Additionally, Ireland has one of the highest rates of school completion among OCED countries.

Jessica Woodlock