Underfunding means our universities will suffer not benefit from Brexit

Irish universities lack the investment to benefit from Brexit - another fall out of gross underfunding of higher education by government, says UCC IFUT member, Rosarii Griffin.

UCC Researchers recently organised a discussion on the plight of researchers on temporary contracts, a Researcher Career Framework, and the importance of research to the University life, both nationally and internationally.  The meeting was organised by Rosarii Griffin of IFUT as part of briefing politicians on the real needs of higher education - the meeting was also addressed by Fianna Fáil TD, Micheal Martin, TD.

One of the least addressed issues is the impact that Brexit may have on higher education. 

An immediate challenge facing Irish higher education is that Ireland’s research status is falling in international rankings, which influence decision-making on where EU or international staff and students wish to study and work. 

Ireland’s higher education sector needs to compete now for flagship EU projects, talented students and staff, and to identify new partnerships with EU-Higher Education Institutions following fall-out from Brexit.

However, lack of investment has left us instead vulnerable to further decline.  A recent OECD report found that Ireland’s investment in the third level sector is lower than most OECD countries, that the ratio of teachers to students has risen in recent years, with a knock-on effect on teaching, learning, research, and on international rankings. 

UCC’s core budget dropped from €90m to just €30m during a five year period, despite a report highlighting that every euro invested in UCC yields over €5 return on investment. 

This blatant lack of investment, and a parallel increase in precarious work contracts of teaching and research staff, has impacted directly on teaching, research and publication. 
Ireland’s third level sector is, therefore, not in a position to benefit from the fall-out of Brexit, such as attracting excellent researchers, lecturers, teachers and students from abroad.

Lack of political will or any commitment to funding means that Ireland risks being left behind in the global knowledge economy, which is where the future lies.