Posted tagged ‘capital investment’

Capital investment

July 28, 2010

I have, over recent months, from time to time expressed some concern as to whether Ireland has a clear policy on investing in higher education. I still have major concerns in that regard, not least because there is every indication that universities and colleges may suffer another significant budget cut later this year, making it almost impossible to argue that we are still providing a quality education for students. But it would be wrong not to acknowledge that, in certain areas of capital investment, the government is getting it right.

First, there was the announcement some days ago of the new investment in research through the 5th Cycle of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), which indicated a strong national commitment to a high value economy and a knowledge society. Yesterday, the government in outlining its capital programme for the coming year endorsed the plan to move the various constituent parts of the Dublin Institute of Technology on to one campus, and more generally announced a capital programme for higher education.

In all of this there is a welcome awareness of the importance of investment in higher education. All that is missing now is a realistic plan for resourcing teaching in a way that is affordable but does not destroy the quality of Irish higher education.

The fly in the ointment? The politicians simply cannot resist making silly job creation predictions. This time the promise is that the investments overall will create 270,000 jobs. Politicians really need to be weaned off this kind of talk.

So did we waste all our wealth?

February 19, 2010

Sometimes it seems as if only yesterday we were describing ourselves and were being described by others as enormously wealthy as a country. But where is Ireland now? And if we were wealthy, did we make good use of that, at least while it lasted?

All these issues are addressed in a recent report issued by Davy Stockbrokers, entitled Years of high income largely wasted. The main drift of the report is that while we were indeed relatively wealthy as individuals (in terms of average per capita income) and to some extent still are, as a country we mis-allocated resources. In particular, 63 per cent of all capital investment between 2000 and 2008 went into housing stock, while key infrastructure requirements like roads, public transport and broadband were tackled but inadequately. The report adds that we also seriously under-invested in education.

I don’t think we should use reports such as this for recrimination. We all contributed to this problem. But we should note the lessons carefully, and we should use them for national strategic planning. I hope our relative prosperity returns; but then let us use it wisely.


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