Posted tagged ‘university accommodation’

A matter of 4 billion Euro, give or take a fiver

April 29, 2010

Yesterday’s Irish Times published details from an internal report prepared by the Higher Education Authority (HEA)  suggesting that higher education institutions would need a capital investment of €4 billion in order to accommodate the additional students now expected to be recruited over the coming decade, and in order to bring the existing stock of buildings to an acceptable standard. This sum, it should be emphasised, is not the amount needed to provide sufficient funding for the cost of actually teaching the students, it is just the investment in infrastructure that is needed to make the teaching possible in the first place.

I have not seen the report, and so I cannot judge whether the calculations are correct; but I certainly know that we now have serious building, equipment and infrastructure problems across the whole sector, before ever admitting any additional students. But far from anyone investing in any of this, the signs are that capital budgets are about to be slashed to near-nothingness, just as the pressure comes on to take in more and more students without any new funding to pay for them. This is, as I have already pointed out, a perfect storm producing a likely catastrophe.

In the meantime the Higher Education Strategic Review, which could produce some sort of forum for debating these issues, is not complete and there is as yet no report or any sign of one. Whatever the right national strategy may be for higher education, what we are facing right now isn’t it. Realistically, we either need substantial new funding streams ( inevitably including fees), or else we need to scale down the sector. But rapid unfunded growth with no capital support is not the way to go!