Initial TUI response to publication of Report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education

By piofficer, Monday, 11th July 2016 | 0 comments

TUI believes in a free, publicly funded education system – loans system could deter students from participation

TUI favours a publicly funded education system at all levels. Along with the clear educational and social benefits, such a system also makes compelling economic sense, with a significant return on every euro invested. 

It follows that we believe in a higher education system that is free and which does not saddle young people with significant levels of debt as they commence their working lives, the prospect of which could deter students from some socio-economic backgrounds from participating in higher education.

Union welcomes recommendation of employer contribution

We welcome the recommendation in the report of a structured contribution for employers. It is established TUI policy that a 1% levy should be applied to corporate profits in order to generate additional funding for the resource-starved higher education sector. The corporate sector derives direct and invaluable benefit from the availability in Ireland of a highly skilled, graduate labour pool which is the product of extensive higher education provision. The establishment of a levy would further enhance the quality of the graduate labour pool, the capacity of institutions to recalibrate to meet evolving need and ultimately the sustainability of the enterprises that contribute to the fund. Crucially, the levy would represent a tangible contribution by corporations to the achievement of public policy goals and would counter the perception that the corporate sector has no allegiances to the society in which profits are generated.

Funding crisis must be tackled as matter of urgency

Clearly, there has been a funding crisis in the sector for a number of years. Funding for the Institute of Technology sector alone fell by €190m (35%) between 2008 and 2015. Over the same period, student numbers rose dramatically by 21,411 (32%) while 535 (9.5%) lecturing positions were lost. As a result, lecturer workload has reached unsustainable levels, staff morale has been severely damaged and the capacity to deliver a quality service to students has been adversely affected. Urgent, additional funding is required to tackle the corrosive and damaging effects of these cutbacks that have resulted in today’s students experiencing larger class sizes and less access to laboratories, equipment, materials, libraries and tutorials.