The 2018 Kennedy Summer School in New Ross opened on 6 September with a discussion on the Future of Higher Education. Peter Cassells, Author of the 2016 Cassells Report on Higher Education and Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University were among those who echoed IFUT’s position regarding the treatment of Higher Education
Professor MacCraith warned that the understanding of education was being moved from that of being a ‘public good’ to being a ‘direct instrument’ of Government planning, including responding to the needs of industry, regional development requirements and the needs of technology.
He warned that funding requirements were not keeping pace with expanding student numbers, pointing out that Government figures projected an additional 40,00 students by 2030, the equivalent of current DCU and UCD student numbers combined.
Dublin Institute of Technology Chairperson and former Maynooth University Acting President, Professor Tom Collins, who chaired the event, pointed out that, whereas in previous decades spending by the Government on education and health had been roughly similar, health spending had now reached €16.5bn annually, while education lags increasingly far behind at around €10bn.
IFUT Deputy General Secretary, Frank Jones, who attended the event, said the similar views expressed on under-resourcing of education by all speakers was very encouraging from an IFUT perspective.
“In IFUT we are familiar with the concernsofmembers living the experience of reduced budgets, increasing student numbers and working with students facing unprecedented financial hardships. It was interestingand enlighteningto learn that,despite our day-to-day disagreements on other matters,the highest levels of management within the Universitiesshare many of our concerns about accessibility and the future funding for higher education.
“It was some comfort to leave Wexford in the knowledge that many of those who regularly sit on the other side of the table to us in negotiations share our concerns. Building on our relationships with all the stakeholders will assistgreatly in our efforts to securefunding improvements,” he said.