Union Coalition Calls On Parties To Commit To Publicly Funded Third Level Education

A union coalition has called on all political parties to support the publicly-funded third level education option, proposed by the Cassells report.

The Coalition for Publicly Funded Higher Education – a group comprising of USI, SIPTU, IFUT, IMPACT and TUI – made the call.

Annie Hoey, Union of Students in Ireland President, said: "Publicly funded education is a common good for every area of society – for employment, tech, medical, scientific and progress. All major education unions are backing publicly funded education and vehemently opposing the introduction of a loan scheme. We are the organisations that are on the ground, familiar with the struggles and hurdles within the sector and are collectively urging the government to choose the only long-term sustainable and practical option in the Cassells Report – a publicly funded third level education system."

Mike Jennings, General Secretary of IFUT (the Irish Federation of University Teachers) also said: "The educational contributions made to cultural, social and economic aspects of a country are huge.

"What we need is decisiveness and Minister Bruton is guilty of indecisiveness in the face of facts. On the day the Cassells report was published I was stunned that a decision wasn't to be taken for another 12 months. Third level education is at a crisis point, in terms of funding. A loan scheme has too many long-term negatives. Why give young people another incentive to emigrate?"

At €3,000 annually, Irish third level fees are the second highest in Europe, after the UK, the coalition said.

The coalition stressed that the loan scheme option in the Cassells report is unsustainable long-term, will increase emigration, deter young people from applying to college, and disable upward mobility.

SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Karl Byrne, added: "The Times Higher Education world university rankings is regarded as the most influential list of top performing third level institutions in the world. It is deeply disappointing and reputationally damaging that no Irish university has made it into the top 200 in this year's list. Such a failure means that Irish universities will face greater problems attempting to attract research investment and overseas students. These issues will damage the ability of the sector to perform and in the long run undermine our society and economy. Urgent action must be taken to stop the rot in our university sector."


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