Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke says the Government must urgently prioritise third level investment if Irish universities are to realise their potential and be able to compete on the world stage.  His comments come following the publication of the latest QS World University 2016/2017 Rankings which has seen Maynooth University slide from 551-600 in 2015 to 651-700 this year.

Deputy O’Rourke explained, “These new rankings are very worrying, not only for Maynooth University, but for third level institutions as a whole.  The fact that all Irish universities have fallen down the rankings points to a wider problem and it is no secret that funding and resources are a real issue.

“Funding shortages have led to a sharp increase in staff/student ratios.  Over the past five years they’ve increased from 1:15 to 1:19.5.  The OECD average is 1:14.  These increases have a direct result on the quality of teaching and are jeopardising our international reputation.  This is a big worry for Maynooth and other universities, who are competing with other international institutions for students and staff.

“The Fine Gael-Labour Government allowed third level education to fall down the priority list and unfortunately we are now seeing the results of this neglect.  This is not an area that can afford to be ignored any longer.  Maynooth University has a proud tradition, not only here in Kildare, but right across the country.  However, without adequate supports and investment, its ability to maintain its reputation, is being severely restricted.

“Fianna Fáil has been consistently clear that €100 million core funding needs to be invested from general taxation in our higher level institutions to enhance quality and bolster our universities competitiveness.

“Ireland has a proud history of producing world class graduates, and is something that should not be taken for granted.  However, in order to maintain these standards, investment is urgently needed.  Every student living in Ireland deserves to have access to a world class education and I am urging Minister Bruton and his Cabinet colleagues to prioritise the sector and ensure it has the investment it needs to compete effectively on a national, European and global scale”.