Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Thomas Byrne has today welcomed the call from the Irish Universities Association for funding for extra places this year.

Universities and Institutes of Technology are likely to lose international students this year as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

He explained, “Our third level institutions are facing a difficult cash crunch this year due to the likelihood that the number of foreign students coming to Ireland will decline significantly. Non-EU students pay higher fees which are a significant part of the revenue stream of colleges.

“When I called for the cancellation of the Leaving Cert exams this year, I made the call on the basis of extra places being available at our colleges this year. Not only are these needed from a financial point of view by our universities, they are central to the consideration of fair alternatives to the Leaving Cert exams.

“The needs of universities and the needs of our students marry well in this instance. Extra places will take unnecessary pressure off our students and ease financial pressure on our colleges.

“The Department of Education appears to be the only major Department not to get extra resources from government to deal with the fallout from COVID-19.

“It is vital that a recovery plan for our third level institutions is developed. Investment in education will be key to a sustainable social and economic recovery.

“College entry is not straightforward – every country has its own application procedures – but we are in unique circumstances and no entry system will be perfect. Extra places at colleges will go some way towards easing the difficulties for students and colleges”.