“While I very much welcome the Taoiseach’s comments that the Government will not increase fees or introduce a student loan scheme to meet the gap in funding at third-level, he has given no indication of where the money to keep our universities and third level institutions afloat is going to come from. His Government has been unwilling to commit to the scale of investment needed over the last series of Budgets since 2016 to meet the Cassells’ Reports targets, and as it stands the state will be unlikely to meet the first benchmark of an additional €600m by 2021 over 2015 funding levels for the sector.
“Many institutions are already experiencing the consequences of this enormous funding gap, which will only get worse for students and staff and our higher education system overall until action is taken.
“It’s been two and a half years since the Cassells’ Report was published and yet members of the Oireachtas Education Committee like myself are still awaiting the economic analysis on the Report, despite repeated requests for an update.
“These comments from the Taoiseach seem to be blatant electioneering by Fine Gael. They are trying to have their cake and eat it too by ruling out every option that doesn’t involve a massive increase in state funding, and also refusing to increase state funding to the levels needed.
“If the Taoiseach is serious in his comments, he will ensure that the economic analysis of the Cassells’ Report is finished and presented to the Oireachtas Education Committee as soon as possible – and he will start seriously to look at a substantial increase in the next Budget to start closing the funding gap which this Government has only allowed to grow wider.”
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