Statement from Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO THEA, on behalf of the Presidents of the Institutes of Technology in Ireland.
We recognise and respect the priority that Government has given to the higher education sector through the establishment of a dedicated Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, & Science and we acknowledge the commitment and dedication that Minister Simon Harris and his team have shown since taking up office. We particularly welcomed at the time the Minister’s stated commitment to addressing the funding crisis in higher education, as outlined in ‘INVESTING IN NATIONAL AMBITION: A STRATEGY FOR FUNDING HIGHER EDUCATION’ (March 2016) and which is yet to be addressed.
It is clear that since early 2020, Covid-19 has shaped and determined Government priorities. But more important, the current health and economic crisis has demonstrated the urgency to deliver on the Government’s priorities for coherent regional development and to enhance the capacity for accessible life-long responsive learning delivered through a blended approach both online and in-person across the full range of disciplines. The importance of education in the national recovery has been recognised as a clear priority and the determination of the technological sector is to support that fully.
We welcome the supports outlined in the Minister’s Budget 2021 allocations, in particular the €50m million fund to provide financial assistance to full time third-level students in recognition of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this group. So we welcome the €30 million will be invested in research to support early-career researchers, build capacity, support COVID research, and strengthen north-south research links and the measures outlined to support vulnerable and challenged student communities. However, we note with regret that the COVID-19 crisis has forced a further deferral of the commitment to address higher education funding. With additional investment, the technological higher education sector has the capacity to drive growth and recovery throughout the regions of Ireland and to contribute actively to the economic recovery of our country as outlined in our budget submission [contentFiles/THEA_pre-budget_submission.pdf]. We continue to value the opportunity to work with the new Minister and his Department to advance the thinking and proposals for regional recovery that have been outlined in this paper.
For further information please contact:
Róisín O’Connell, Head of Communications, THEA: (087) 9193333; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Technological Higher Education Association is the representative advocacy body for the Institutes of Technology in Ireland.