Statement from Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO, Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) on behalf of our members: ATU, TUS, SETU, DkIT, IADT
On behalf of our members, we broadly welcome the announcements in today’s budget for 2023 and look forward to receiving the detail around funding for higher education in the coming days, and to working with officials and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, & Science to ensure that targeted investments are effectively distributed to those in most need.
Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO, THEA stated: “The reduction in student fees will greatly benefit students and families entering and returning to higher education this year. As will the increased grant payments. However, we have stated unequivocally to Government that any reduction in student payments must be balanced by full restoration of these to each higher education institution, as the fees are used for student tuition, student services, and other supports. The student experience will suffer if that funding is not provided in other ways to institutions”.
In our recent submission to Government on Budget 23, we highlighted a number of specific areas where investment and support will make the most impact. We also highlighted that student services in the Technological University sector must be top of the list in terms of priorities for investment, increased funding and additional supports if we are to meet the ambitions as laid out in the ‘Funding the Future’ plan.
We called for:
- A dedicated funding stream to be ringfenced for TUs to formalise arrangements with ETBs. This could allow for the TUs to take a greater role in co-development of courses at Levels 6 and 7 with the ETBs, as well as assisting in areas such as quality assurance.
- A dedicated ring-fenced funding stream to be provided to the Technological Universities (TU)s to ensure there is sufficient physical capacity and lecturer capability to deliver on the increased numbers of Craft and New Generation Apprentices.
- The enabling legislation to be enacted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) so that Technological Universities (TU)s are enabled to borrow money on the financial markets by end of 2022. The borrowing capacity could be used for a wide range of purposes including student housing, infrastructure and research and development expansion.
- Comparable access to recurrent research-oriented funding for TUs when compared to traditional universities; this would involve a phased increase to €18.5 million p.a. over a period of 4 years, increasing by €3.375million per year. We call for an investment of €3.375 million in 2023 as a first step towards the commitment stated in Impact 2030.
- An investment of €3.2 million in 2023 to continue providing Irish Research Council postgraduate research scholarships for the technological university sector.
- €7million per annum of the €373 million investment in the 3rd National Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence Strategy to be ring-fenced to support and enhance its implementation across the entire higher education sector. The relevance of this work to wider society should be taken into consideration; higher education has the potential to be an exemplar in this area.
- an investment of approximately €5 million per annum to support the technological university sector to have the ability to read and publish research articles equal to that of the traditional university sector.
- 1% of the 3% of the National Training Fund to be set aside to support the new technological universities. Setting aside this portion of the corporation tax increase for capital investment in the technological sector would demonstrate both to industry and to wider society the clear value that the government place on the technological universities supporting regional development and their role in driving this country forward.
Dr Ryan added: “Reflecting on budget 2023, we acknowledge the dual approach from government to increase core funding over a three year period and the focus on reducing the cost of going to third level. We see this as a welcome step in putting our higher education system on more solid ground with an agreed pathway over the coming years. In this we particularly note the recalibration of the demographic base. The targeted support to institutions for increased energy costs is also appreciated. In addition, the immediate reduction in the student contribution and the increase in grants to both undergraduates and postgraduates will assist all learners.”
For further information please contact:
Róisín O’Connell, Head of Communications, THEA: (087) 9193333
Note to editors: The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) is the representative advocacy body for the technological university sector in Ireland