Assessing the Budget and Estimates

Now that the details of the Budget and the Book of Estimates have become clearer, it is possible to say that, on the whole, it could have been worse. Even after all details have been accounted for, higher education will still have been treated less generously than primary or secondary, but that is often the case at times of pressure on public finances. It now appears that the revenues generated from the increased student registration charge will be available to the universities and colleges. This will mean that, overall, the aggregate income between fees, recurrent grant and registration charge will leave the universities with more or less the same income from the State as last year – which, however, means a cut in real terms of over 6 per cent.

There is, as I have noted previously, a fairly generous increase in capital spending, but for the moment I do not know what it is for, and I suspect a lot of it is for building projects already authorised. I also understand that PRTLI Cycle 5 will be announced shortly, although expenditure under it will not be possible for over a year.

The one item about which I confess I am disturbed is the decision to compel the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) to transfer its business to a new State agency created from a merger of three existing ones – HETAC, FETAC and the NQAI. I believe that this move is a mistake, and could lead to an unacceptable bureaucratisation of quality assurance. But I suppose I should withhold judgement until I know more in the way of detail about these plans.

The year ahead – or more likely, the years ahead – will be tricky for universities, and it will be hard to innovate. But we shall address the situation positively in DCU.

Explore posts in the same categories: economy, higher education, university

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