Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue is warning the Government not to target the third level sector in the upcoming budget. The latest university rankings show there is now only one Irish university – Trinity College Dublin – in the world’s top 200.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “In the 2012 Budget the then Minister Ruairi Quinn cut the block grant to third level by €25 million and told us it would be a one-off reduction. However, in Budget 2014 he doubled down and brought in a further cut. Minister O’Sullivan must not repeat this mistake. The decision to reduce third level funding will damage the quality of education at third level and have a detrimental effect on long term economic prospects.
“I warned last year that cutting funding to higher education would put universities and colleges under great pressure. These cuts are having a detrimental impact on teaching and quality standards and ultimately students’ education will suffer. Decisions like this have undoubtedly contributed to Irish universities decline in international rankings.
“It is extremely worrying to see the country’s largest university drop out of the top 200 rankings. Three years ago UCD was ranked among the best 100 universities in the world, and this dramatic decline is a great cause of concern.
“Despite increasing student fees, the Government has actually cut back on third level spending over the past two years. Colleges and universities cannot be expected to maintain the same high standards while having substantial funding cuts imposed on them. The Minister must ensure that funding levels are maintained to protect third level standards and to prevent any further decline in these rankings.
“The scale of the cuts that have been levied on the education sector over the past three and a half years is unsustainable, and in terms of standards, is unaffordable, and I hope that these latest rankings serve as a wake-up call for the Minister as to the seriousness of the situation in our third level institutions”.