Thursday, 16 November 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Funding
96. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his views on reports that EUROSTAT has asked the Central Statistics Office, CSO, to determine whether universities are on or off the Exchequer’s balance sheet; the implications of a finding that the universities are on balance sheet; if his Department has made representations to EUROSTAT, the CSO or another State organisation about same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48581/17]
As the Deputy will be aware currently universities are classified as outside General Government Balance for Eurostat purposes, while Institutes of Technology are classified as within. This arises primarily from the difference in funding sources in the two sectors, with the university sector raising a greater proportion of income from non-State sources.
The classification of the universities in Ireland has been reviewed a number of times over the past 10-15 years through Eurostat questionnaires and national classification reviews. As part of the latest review, Eurostat has asked the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to carry out an independent review of the universities classification.
Officials from my Department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) met with Eurostat representatives earlier this year in relation to the matter, and have been liaising with the CSO in relation to the review. The review involves assessment of a number of different areas including the legal status of the universities and their ability to make independent decisions about their courses of study and academic programme. The review has recently been completed and my Department awaits the decision of Eurostat following its consideration of the CSO's submission.