Taking the case for fees to the Oireachtas

Another day, another discussion about tuition fees – this time in front of the Oireachtas (parliament) Joint Committee on Education and Science. Five of the university Presidents attended, as well as the chief executive of the Irish Universities Association (IUA). The discussion was lively and occasionally sharp, but also respectful and good humoured. But it was also clear to me at least that some politicians still believe there is an easy way of funding universities with public money and thereby avoiding tuition fees. It was suggested to me in one exchange that tax increases would be preferable to fees – notwithstanding the obvious point that no government would be willing to go to the people and tell them their taxes would be increased in order to give money to universities, and that we would have no certainty anyway that all or even any of such increased exchequer returns would come our way.

However, it was a valuable exercise, as it is important that politicians are informed about the increasingly dangerous state of university finances around the country and the urgency of a solution. As we now expect the Book of Estimates next week to involve a major round of cuts to funding for third level education, it will become difficult to protect students from an erosion of quality in teaching programmes and of the availability of student support services.

There are clearly tough times ahead for everyone – but we need to ensure that the universities are still able to offer the programmes and the research that will make possible an early recovery in the economy.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, university

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One Comment on “Taking the case for fees to the Oireachtas”

  1. Mike Harmon Says:

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

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