Funding and Finances
The publication of the Cassells Report – “Investing In National Ambition: A Strategy For Funding Higher Education” – was a landmark report setting out the future options for the funding of Ireland’s system of Higher Education.
THEA believes that increased funding is required to maintain and enhance a system that will have predictable increase in demand in the coming decade and which remains a key catalyst for economic recovery and sustainability. That funding is likely to be found from three sources:
- first, increased exchequer investment;
- second, a significant student contribution;
- and third, a levy on enterprise.
These reflect the notion of a public good, a private good, and the pipeline of talent for our economy. Our submission to the Oireachtas Committee in 2017 as well as our more recent submission to the Indecon review of the National Training Fund set out the principles that we see applying in this debate.
There is no doubt that there is a funding crisis in Higher Education – the 2016 Financial Review of the Institutes of Technology by the HEA set this out clearly and unambiguously. The challenge is clearly set out as it states “The change in financial performance in recent years is stark, with the sector generating an overall surplus of €40.8mn in 2008/09 yet incurring an overall deficit of €2.7mn in 2014/15”. More recently, an Expert Panel has conducted a review of the Recurrent Grant Allocation Mechanism for the HEA and THEA will be working with support from the sector to implement this report with higher education partners.
Over the next few years, the key challenge is to ensure that higher education is put on a secure sustainable financial footing.