Date Uploaded: 28/09/2016
Fianna Fáil say €100m urgently needed in Budget for third level sector
Some Institutes of Technology are “close to trading insolvently” while our universities continue to slide in international rankings.
That was the strong message from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as the Dáil returned from the summer break.
He demanded at least €100m extra in the October 11 Budget to meet the immediate third level funding crisis.
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny accepted that third level sector funding must be urgently addressed. But he also warned that there was a long list of demands facing the Budget in a fortnight’s time – and funds were not there to meet all the demands.
Mr Kenny also told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that he was still seeking a way of “opening an all-island conversation” on Brexit. This would bring business, farming and other interests from North and South together to discuss the issues.
The Fianna Fáil leader said the recent report on the third level funding crisis by former trade union leader, Peter Cassells, had to be dealt with. He said core third level investment fell by 22pc since 2011 and student-to-lecturer ratios were below OECD-recommended levels.
“Some of our Institutes of Technology are very close to trading insolvently,” Mr Martin warned. He said education investment was central to Ireland’s economic future and in excess of €100m was needed in the Budget with more plans for longer-term funds.
The Taoiseach said it was clear the Cassells required prompt attention but he said the Oireachtas Education Committee was the correct way to do this. He said Education Minister, Richard Bruton, was in discussions with Public Expenditure Minister, Paschal Donohoe, on immediate third level funding needs.
Replying to the Sinn Féin leader, Mr Kenny said he was still trying to set an all-island body to discuss Brexit. He avoided the use of the term “forum” which was rejected out of hand by Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster, in the immediate aftermath of Brexit vote on June 23 last.
Journalist: John Downing