International Educator - May/June 2012 - 34
The reality is that the present funding is not sustainable if we want to maintain both the expansion of third-level education and the maintenance of its quality.
or generate more money. They have demonstrated considerable skill in generating and attracting additional funds, both philanthropic and others earning their own way. If we can develop the intellectual property side of universities so that they can commercialize some of the research that they’re doing it would help—there are some positive signs in relation to that. Inevitably, there’s going to have to be a contribution from the public domain either through a tax transfer of revenue from the central government or an increase in fees by the participants. That’s all in the mixing bowl at the moment. The reality is that the present funding is not sustainable if we want to maintain both the expansion of third-level education and the maintenance of its quality.
IE: Recently, the Higher Education Authority told Irish media that student contribution charges would increase by €250 for each of the next three years, bringing it to €3,000 by 2015. Is that correct? QUINN: You are. It’s not a formal decision,
but that’s the thrust of where we’re going. That was indicated so people could get a sense of what it was. The higher education market, if you want to call it that, of the two islands of Britain and Ireland has been transformed by the introduction in
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the United Kingdom of a top fee of ₤9,000. And when the Tory government brought that in, there was a suggestion not every university would necessarily charge that amount but only those thought of as being part of the first division, which was a very naïve assumption because which university is going to want to say “we’re not a top university; we charge lower fees.” So the expectation now is that every university in the United Kingdom and certainly within Britain and Wales is going to go up to that figure. In Northern Ireland, where there are two universities, the Northern Irish Minister of Education [John O’Dowd] has talked in terms of a fee there of approximately ₤3,500, which will be considerably higher than what is the case here in the Republic. There’s a very good article recently in The Guardian newspaper by Will Hutton. He has written, in my view, a very perceptive analysis of the impact of the change in the funding for third-level education of Britain. One of his conclusions is that British graduates will emerge as the most indebted graduates in the world as a consequence of the changes that the Tory government are bringing in. We are not yet sure what displacement effect this might have toward students from the United Kingdom coming to study in Ireland.
IE: Can you accommodate as many as who might want to come? QUINN: We simply don’t know because we don’t know what sectors they’re going to apply for yet. But we’ll know in and around next August what the displacement or the change in the landscape is. It’ll be an interesting story to follow. IE: A recent European Universities Association report was not very optimistic about the possibility of universities in
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