Date Uploaded: 25/03/2016
The TUI, which represents some 15,000 teachers, including 4,000 members in institutes of technology, said the corporate sector derives “invaluable benefit” from the Irish graduate labour pool.
It said the levy would allow for the employment of thousands of additional academic staff and could also be used to remove the €3,000 student registration fee.
TUI members in the third-level sector took a day’s strike action last month due to alleged underfunding, understaffing, the employment status of many staff, and the resulting detrimental effect on the service to students.
The union said the revenue generated by such a levy would be “considerable” — pointing out that, at 12.5%, the standard rate of corporation tax in Ireland is low by international standards.
Going on figures from 2014, the TUI said the 1% levy on the €4.6bn earned in corporate tax takings would generate almost €370m for the higher-education sector.
It pointed out that the application of a further 1% would represent only a modest readjustment and would not inhibit inward investment or employment generation.
To put this into context, the union pointed out that funding for the IT sector fell by €190m (35%) between 2008 and 2015.
Over the same period, student numbers rose by 21,411 (32%) while 535 (9.5%) lecturing positions were lost.
Speaking ahead of the union’s annual congress in Killarney next week, TUI general secretary John MacGabhann said the case for imposing such a levy was “compelling”.
”The case for this levy is compelling. 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.”
Mr MacGabhann said that with student numbers on the rise, the situation was likely only to get worse unless positive intervention is made.
“In the first instance, it is important to stress that our recommendation is framed as representing a potential new source of funding and emphatically not as an alternative to exchequer funding of higher education,” said Mr MacGabhann.
“We would also stress that this would be a dedicated higher-education levy rather than a general increase in the rate of corporation tax in order to ensure that the fund would only be used for the intended purpose.”
Journalist: Conall Ó Fátharta