Funding Irish higher education

According to a report in yesterday’s Irish Times, the Irish Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD, has expressed concerns about higher education funding:

‘Mr Quinn also conceded yesterday that it was “hard to see” how the third-level sector could achieve the ambitions set for it by Government within the existing funding framework.’

It is good that the Minister has expressed his awareness of this, and it is to be hoped that the sector will work constructively with him to find a workable solution. What seems to be clear right now is that the Irish universities are crucial to the economic regeneration agenda, but that the public finance crisis is preventing the government from sustaining it in a way that is viable. If tuition fees are off the agenda, it may be time to accept that it is not possible to continue to admit the number of students currently going through Irish higher education, not least because these students will no longer be sure to have a high quality education. This, too, would not be an easy decision, but what is happening now is unsustainable.

While Ireland still does not have a solution to its higher education problems, at least these problems are being properly identified. That’s a start.

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