The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) today criticised the government for the continued failure to adequately fund higher education. The IFUT criticism comes as the OECD today published their annual “Education at a Glance” report. This is the latest annual report which provides information on government investment and strategies in relation to education across the OECD countries.
The report shows that Ireland’s share of per-capita GDP allocated to education is under 15%, significantly less than the OECD average of 27%. The spend on tertiary education in Ireland for 2020 equated to 0.8% of GDP while the OECD average was 1%.
IFUT General Secretary, Frank Jones said “We are not just concerned with the levels of investment in Higher Education; we wanted to see what the OECD report told us about working and learning conditions in the sector. We once again learn that Ireland’s Higher Education staff to student ratio is wholly inadequate, standing at 1 staff member to every 23 students, while the OECD average is 1 to 17. This report confirms that Ireland is still lagging behind the rest of the OECD in terms of investment in tertiary education in Ireland.
“The report confirms what most of us knew, i.e. that higher levels of education usually translate into better employment opportunities and higher earnings. Combined with other social benefits, the potential to earn more, and see those earnings increase over time, is an important incentive for individuals to pursue education and training. It should also be rationale enough for the government to increase funding and supports for those engaged in education both as students or educators.
“IFUT calls upon the government to accept that the time has finally come for them to honour their own promises and commitments to increase funding for higher education and to make money available in the October budget for the sector to try to make up for the years of neglect it has suffered.”