The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has avoided taking any action to tackle the funding deficit at third level institutions by ordering yet another report into the issue, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education & Skills Brendan Smith TD.
Deputy Smith commented, “Instead of taking real action to address the funding difficulties at our Universities, the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has today kicked this difficult issue down the road by ordering yet another report into funding structures at third level.
“The Hunt report, commissioned by the previous Government, has already clearly stated that our Universities will need additional €500 million a year to meet the demands of rising student numbers. One has to question the merits of commissioning another report to do exactly what the Hunt report has done, highlighting the same concerns about growing budget deficits due to a surge in demand for third level places.
“This smacks of a diversion tactic from a Minister shying away from making tough decisions on a difficult issue. In opposition, the Labour Party consistently refused to deal with the funding problems facing our third level sector and failed to put forward any proposals in this regard. However when the Hunt report was published in January, Ruairi Quinn accused the previous Government of “a lack of urgency” in dealing with third level funding. But now that he is Education Minister his tune has changed and he is only too happy to put this issue on the long finger.
“In addition to this, Minister Quinn has also admitted today that he’s breaking his promise to reverse the increase in registration fees for students. This is a complete u-turn from Ruairí Quinn who, with full knowledge of the extent of funding problems at third level, pledged throughout the general election campaign to cut the registration fees. It raises serious questions about his credibility on other related election promises.
“While it is welcome that the new Education Minister has broadly adopted the strategies set out in the Hunt report, his response has been totally inadequate. Universities and students around the country need some certainty from the Government about how and when the funding problem will be addressed.”