Significant funding needed for TUs to reach potential says teachers’ union

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Significant additional funding is required at Third Level if Technological Universities are to achieve their full potential, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said.

The Union also reiterated its policy that a levy should be applied to corporate profits to generate a dedicated fund for higher education.

Among its 20,000 members, the TUI represents 4,500 academic staff in Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities and St. Angela’s College.

TUI President Martin Marjoram said that as the democratic voice of academic staff, the TUI has been central to the operation and evolution of first Regional Technical Colleges, then Institutes of Technology and now Technological Universities (TUs).

He said that the most obvious point to make regarding TUs is that they must be properly funded if they are to achieve their considerable potential.

“To date, the political system has failed to answer our repeated insistence that the era of underfunding at third level must end,” said Mr Marjoram.

“As a result, the ratio of students to teaching staff at Third Level in Ireland has increased from 20:1 to 23:1 according to the latest OECD indicators, which is vastly higher than the OECD and European averages of 15:1.

“This is a clear indictment of the ongoing refusal to address the sector’s funding crisis. At a time when there is unprecedented focus on the key role of education in our economic and social development, the long-standing failure to provide the necessary resources and staffing risks inflicting severe operational and reputational damage on our education system.”

He said that beyond funding, there will be challenges in the TU sector such as establishing a coherent and unified mission for the sector and also in finding mechanisms to include Dundalk IT and IADT within TUs and creating a substantially improved environment for industrial relations.

Levy on corporate profits

TUI said that serious consideration should be given to the imposition of a 1% levy on corporate profits in order to generate a dedicated fund for investment in higher education.

Based on the net receipts as set out by Revenue, such a levy could have yielded €947m in 2020.

“The corporate sector has consistently derived benefit from Ireland’s excellent graduate labour pool which is largely the product of the public education system – funded by taxpayers and the students themselves,” said Martin Marjoram.

“The introduction of a levy would protect and enhance the capacity of institutions to meet evolving need while allowing the unreasonable financial burden on students to be relieved, furthering access to education to the great benefit of society and increasing the breadth of talent available to the enterprises that contribute to the fund.

“Of course, this measure could be framed so as to provide necessary protections to small indigenous businesses/SMEs.”