Education Unions Join Forces in Call for Incoming Government to Tackle Third Level Funding Deficit
Education unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have called on all parties contesting the election to ensure that the key issue of Third Level funding becomes a priority for any incoming government, in the aftermath of voting on February 8.
The six unions that comprise the Congress Education Sector Group – the ASTI, the TUI, INTO, SIPTU, IFUT, Fórsa and Unite – represent staff working in all areas of the education system, across Primary, Secondary and Third Level.
The Education Sector Group is shortly to publish a report setting out the case for a fully publicly funded Third Level system.
Speaking on behalf of the Education Sector Group ahead of the vote on February 8, Frank Jones, IFUT Deputy General Secretary, said all unions shared a common concern that the dramatic fall in funding seen over recent years "will do damage the Third Level sector and, by extension, our education system as a whole.
"In the longer term, this will hamper economic growth and serve to entrench inequality."
The soon to be published report will call for the funding deficit for Third Level to be prioritised by any incoming government and addressed in a progressive manner, over its lifetime.
It will also call for specific new measures to address the deepening problem of casualisation and precarious work contracts, in both universities and institutes of technology.
In addition, the Congress Education Sector Group says there is an urgent need to ensure transparency in the grant system and to address cost of living issues for students, not least the cost of housing.
The report shows a dramatic fall of some 15% in funding for higher education over recent years and a failure to address the impact of cuts imposed during the financial crisis, despite numerous recommendations and studies highlighting the problems in the sector, most notably the 2016 Cassells report Investing in National Ambition: A Strategy for Funding Higher Education.
"Ironically, the fact that there is a deficit at Third Level is now accepted by al parties. Equally, there is no disagreement about the necessity to address it – but to date, the Government has kicked to touch and failed to make a decision on this critical issue.
'the longer this goes on, the greater the damage that will be done. It must be a top priority for the incoming government, Frank Jones said.
Frank Jones, IFUT Deputy General Secretary can be contacted on: 087 243 6042