GMIT President calls for free undergraduate education for all

Friday, November 11, 2016 Press Office
Press Release

THEA Presidents outline their views on funding for the IoT sector to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

The President of GMIT, Dr Fergal Barry, says it’s time, once again, to consider free undergraduate education to all who seek it. Dr Barry was among a group of Presidents from the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), who presented before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills yesterday, 10th November, as the Committee sat to consider the recommendations of the Cassells Report.

THEA has proposed that the first option, as proposed in the Cassells Report, in effect envisages free undergraduate education for all. THEA has proposed a variation on this scenario that would see full funding for all students who enter higher education on Level 6/7 routes (Higher Certificate and Ordinary Degree). The net marginal cost to the State of this would be some €50m per annum.

An even more ambitious approach to the funding of Higher Education has also been suggested in the THEA document which would see the country providing free higher education to all students on honours Bachelor Degree programmes (Level 8). Based on current enrolments of 121,500 students, this would result in a further additional net marginal cost of approximately €200m per annum.

The vast majority of students studying in the country’s Institutes of Technology are in receipt of some form of grant aid. At GMIT, over 60% of students are in receipt of State grants. These students and their families already incur considerable debt and the introduction of an income-contingent loan system would adversely impact on their participation in Higher Education.

Speaking today (Friday 11 November) at the first of GMIT’s Conferring of Awards ceremonies, Dr Barry said: “There is a clear benefit for graduates of Higher Education,  with average life time earnings of 14 to 24% higher for graduates than non-graduates. And a similar dividend accrues to the tax payer, and an even greater benefit to society. I believe it is timely once again to make a commitment to provide free undergraduate education to all who seek it.”

GMIT is delighted to be conferring awards on just under 1,800 students this year in a range of disciplines. The first of GMIT’s Graduation Conferrings took place today (Friday 11 November) in Letterfrack. The Galway campuses – Dublin Road and the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, will take next week, Thursday 17 and Friday 18 November in the Radisson Hotel, in the city. The Mayo campus conferrings are due to take place on Friday week, 24 November in the Breaffy House Hotel, Co Mayo.