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Universities seek public support to end third level funding crisis

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  • Ireland’s seven universities seeking public aid to pressure politicians to provide more funding.
  • State funding per third level student is at €5,000, barely half of what it was a decade ago.
  • The Save Our Spark campaign aims to raise awareness and urge TDs and senators to act.

Ireland’s seven universities are encouraging the public to pressure politicians to provide more government funding to third level education.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) has launched the ‘Save Our Spark’ campaign, which warns that Irish higher education is at risk of a “serious drop in quality” unless the funding crisis is tackled.

State funding per third level student is at €5,000, barely half of what it was a decade ago, and a fraction of similar-sized European countries’ expenditure.

Universities say that Budget 2019, while providing a small funding increase, did not address the underlying gap in funding.

“If the higher education crisis is not addressed by Government urgently, then we risk a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future,” said IUA Director General Jim Miley.

“For the first time ever, all seven Irish universities are coming together to demand urgent action on the funding crisis, as we need substantial investment to accommodate the extra students that are expected to enter the system over the next decade.”

The Save Our Spark campaign aims to raise awareness and asks the public to urge their local TD or senator to act.

It includes links to a petition calling on Education Minister Richard Bruton to address the under-funding of higher education, and contains links to those TDs and senators who are their party education spokespersons or members of the Oireachtas Education Committee.

The IUA developed the campaign because of “two years of inaction” since the publication of the Cassells Report, which put forward a number of funding options.

“Our universities are where the Irish spark burns brightest and the key to protecting that spark is securing better state funding,” said Mr Miley.

“The government simply can’t continue to ignore this crisis. It’s time to take action now and we’re encouraging students, their parents and everyone with an interest in the future of the country to visit the Save Our Spark website, sign our petition and contact public representatives about the issue.”

The IUA is the representative body for Ireland’s seven universities: Dublin City University, Maynooth University, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick.

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