GMIT President welcomes commitments to review funding to HE institutions

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Press Office
Press Release

The President of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Dr Fergal Barry, welcomes this week’s announcement by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) that the HEA will conduct a full review into the way it funds third-level institutions.

The Review into how the HEA funds HE Institutions is one of the recommendations outlined in the Report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education – the Cassells Report, published Monday 11 July. The Report finds that current funding arrangements are not sufficient and it calls for the articulation and implementation of a clear funding strategy for the sector that will deliver a robust and steady base of funding to sustain the system into the future.

The report, which will now be considered by an Oireachtas committee, outlines three options to address the significant funding deficit in the sector:
1) the abolition of the current student contribution of €3,000 and a substantial increase in State funding to make up the shortfall,
2) maintain the current "hybrid" system which the Report states would require a significant increase in State funding from the current 64% of the overall cost to 72%, and
3) the introduction of a "study now, pay later" student loan system.

Commenting on the Cassells Report, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, said: “Over recent years, the higher education sector responded well to massively increased student numbers in the context of tightened budgets. This has been a great achievement but is not sustainable, and we are now starting to see difficulties emerge in achieving public policy goals in areas like skills and disadvantage.”

“And in the coming decade the demographic bulge will start to come through to higher education, with numbers expected to be nearly 30% higher by 2030.”

“If we are to deal with these issues, and if we are to fund higher education to the level necessary to help deal with these massive social and economic challenges, we are going to have to look at new funding models. This is a major challenge and I believe we need to try to find a broad consensus on how to address it. The report published [today] is a massive first step on this journey and I am very grateful to Peter Cassells and all members of the Group who put in massive effort to produce this major piece of work. “

“I also believe that if we are going to pursue new funding models, we need to be clear on what new services the higher education system is going to provide for the people who pay for it and use it – in areas like research, skills and access for students from disadvantaged areas and other underrepresented groups. To this end my Department is now carrying out a piece of work to nail down priority goals and targets for the higher education sector for the next period and to develop new funding mechanisms to ensure we deliver on these”.

Dr Fergal Barry, President of GMIT, welcomes the mandate given to the Oireachtas committee to act decisively and the commitment to develop new funding mechanisms to address the chronic under funding of the higher education sector.

“Additional factors should also be considered by the Oireachtas committee such as the specific needs and contribution of the Institute of Technology (IoT) sector in areas such as social equity, enhanced participation and regional economic development. These factors should be kept to the fore,” urges Dr Barry.

“The socio-economic and educational attainment levels of the intake in the IoTs should be directly factored into any new funding allocation model;  the specific regional development contribution of the IoT sector should also be included with particular attention payed to the multi-campus versus unitary nature of many higher education Institutions and thirdly, a borrowing framework similar to that available to the university sector should be promptly implemented in the Institute of Technology sector.” adds Dr Barry.

As committed to in the Programme for Government, the report will now be forwarded to the Oireachtas Committee for comprehensive examination and discussion, in an effort to build a consensus on a plan for the future direction of the funding model for higher education in Ireland.

Read the Cassells Report:…