Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology president Dr Fergal Barry has welcomed this week’s announcement by the Higher Education Authority that it will conduct a full review into the way it funds third level institutions.
The review is one of the recommendations outlined in the report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education – the Cassells Report, published on Monday.
The report has found that current funding arrangements are not sufficient and calls for the articulation and implementation of a clear funding strategy for the sector that will deliver a robust and steady base of funding to sustain the system into the future.
The report, which will now be considered by an Oireachtas committee, outlines three options to address the significant funding deficit in the sector. These are the abolition of the €3,000 student contribution and an increase in State funding; maintaining the hybrid system and increasing State funding; and the introduction of ‘study now, pay later’ loans for students.
Dr Barry this week welcomed the mandate given to the Oireachtas committee to act decisively, and the commitment to develop new funding mechanisms to address the chronic under funding of the higher education sector.
“Additional factors should also be considered by the Oireachtas committee such as the specific needs and contribution of the Institute of Technology [IoT] sector in areas such as social equity, enhanced participation, and regional economic development. These factors should be kept to the fore,” Dr Barry urged.
“The socio-economic and educational attainment levels of the intake in the IoTs should be directly factored into any new funding allocation model; the specific regional development contribution of the IoT sector should also be included with particular attention paid to the multi-campus versus unitary nature of many higher education institutions; and thirdly, a borrowing framework similar to that available to the university sector should be promptly implemented in the institute of technology sector.”
As committed to in the Programme for Government, the report will now be forwarded to the Oireachtas committee for examination and discussion.