Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Education and Skills
My Department's Statement of Strategy, which I published on 8 March last, contains a commitment to put in place a sustainable funding model for the higher education. This is essential in ensuring that our higher education institutions can effectively meet high standards of quality and performance, and achieve critical outcomes for our economy and society.
The report referred to in the Deputy's question, a comprehensive economic evaluation of the funding options presented in the Report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education (2016), was commissioned under the European Commission's Structural Reform Support Programme in November 2019. The final report deliverable was agreed between the Commission (DG Reform) and it's consultants at the end of May 2021.
My Department has commenced its examination of the report's analysis, findings, conclusions and recommendations in order to develop proposals to present to Government to seek it’s support to a sustainable future funding model and transformed FET and HE sector as contained in the Statement of Strategy. Once this examination is concluded the report will be submitted to Government for consideration in advance of its publication (pending agreement with the European Commission as the contracting authority).
I have also been engaging with Government colleagues in relation to future funding for this sector as we work towards Government consideration of the report and decision on the key issues.
In terms of funding, in advance of and since the publication of the 2016 a significant programme of re-investment in higher education has been implemented. Since 2015 annual expenditure allocated to higher education has increased by more than 40%. In 2022 this allocation will be in excess of €2billion
This significant allocation of public resources is a clear demonstration of the Government's commitment to meeting the funding needs of the higher education sector.