Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne, has said the Minister for Education is abdicating his responsibilities to third-level education by blaming a ‘weak government’ for his failure to set out a pathway to address the crisis in higher education.

Deputy Byrne said the disinterest shown by Government in implementing the Cassells report clearly demonstrated their attitude to third-level education.

He said, “The Cassells report has been lying idle on the Minister’s desk for over three years, despite the very real concerns highlighted in the it about the future of the third-level sector.

“Minister McHugh recently said it is “very difficult to get business through parliament because of the weakness of this Government and I think it will take a new Government composition to bring a big fundamental change around this”. He is essentially throwing in the towel and he will continue to stand over our tumbling University ratings.

“This year, shockingly, the Government reduced general funding for third level institutions.  It has covered this up by increasing the Employer Levy.  But the increase in the employer levy, recommended in the Cassells report, was meant to supplement, not replace, Government funding.

“Their lack of vision is astounding, if the Minister for Education is unwilling or unable to address the current crisis, a new Ministry should be established. It is little wonder that Universities are despairing, there is no support forthcoming”, concluded Deputy Byrne.