By the way, this side of the Irish sea, that higher education report… July 12, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said he hopes a consensus can now be built as to how to fund higher education into the future.
Speaking at the launch of a report on funding for the sector, Mr Bruton declined to outline which of three options outlined in the report was his preferred one.
He said clearly the Government could not deliver on this issue on its own and that a consensus was needed.
Given the three options no wonder he’s keeping quiet for the moment.
The first is the abolition of the current student contribution of €3,000 and a substantial increase in State funding to make up the shortfall.
This is the model used by many European countries.
The second is the maintenance of the current “hybrid” system.
This, according to the report, would require a significant increase in State funding, from the current 64% of the overall cost to 72%.
The proportion currently paid by the Irish State falls well below the EU average of 79%.
The third option is the one that has received the most focus thus far.
It envisages the introduction of a “study now, pay later” student loan system.
This would be income contingent, with students repaying the cost when they reach a certain earnings level.
Students and their families would also have the option of paying for their education up front.
But as noted in the report, FG’s instincts are the last. FF is agin it which probably means a continuation of the status quo. And it’s clear there’s an aversion to the first option. Indeed pieces like this from Carl O’Brien in the same paper last night underscore how the narrative is shaped. Despite Ruth Coppinger of AAA amongst others pointing to the need to fund education from progressive taxation he writes entirely straight faced about how:
Almost all parties say they favour a “free” third-level system and want to abolish the registration charge, but are less clear on how, exactly, this will be funded.
He runs through a list which seems to suggest that such an approach, one the IT above admits is the norm in ‘many European countries’ and hardly beyond the beyond in terms of radicalism, is unfeasible. For…
It would require the State’s contribution leaping from 64 per cent to 80 per cent of a higher education system which is set to grow by about a third over the next 15 years or so.
This would require billions of euro of sustained investment at a time when there is huge demand of investment in health, housing and public sector wages.
Raise taxation – anyone?
In any case he concludes by saying:
Against this backdrop, a student loan scheme – where education is free at the point of access – doesn’t seem such an unpalatable idea. But political parties seem unwilling to go there.
And so, and so the options clearly aren’t options at all, but are organised in one direction.
Two or so cheers though at least for the report pointing to some basic problems with the system as currently structured. For example:
The report finds that the full maintenance rate, which is paid to the poorest students, only covers between 30%-35% of actual student living costs.
And the latter point here isn’t bad either:
The chair of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education has said increased investment in higher education and apprenticeships is crucial in order to move the country on from the crisis of recent years.
Higher education encompasses many forms, that’s important to keep front and centre.