The Higher Education Authority believes it will be necessary for third-level institutions to put a cap on student numbers. There is a growing fear within the HEA that colleges will simply not have the necessary funds to continue viably if numbers continue to rise. Under the proposed system, each university would be given a maximum number of students and then receive a matching budget.
This would put drastic pressure on Leaving Cert students as CAO points would rocket, with more and more students attempt to fill course places. With pressure on Leaving Cert students already too strenuous, this would be most unwelcome. The number of students in third-level education has risen from 120,000 in 2000, to 160,000 in 2010. If the current trend continues, this number will double by the year 2030. The report from the HEA states that Ireland should expect more students from the UK next year, as fees in the UK remain at an expensive €10,500. These high costs will certainly deter Irish students from going abroad to study.
Third level colleges are severely underfunded as it is, and with the budget looming on December 6th, it seems likely that student charges will be increased and the re-introduction of college fees will be announced. This news comes only two months after registration fees rose from €1,500 to €2,000. Minister for education Ruarí Quinn promised there would be no increase in student charges during his pre-election campaign, however he has since stepped back from this, claiming he has been put under much pressure to help Ireland’s current financial state.
Cut-backs in recent years has seen Ireland’s education performance suffer badly on the world stage. Last year was the first time the country has never had a university in the top 100.
The proposal from the HEA is a dangerous one, and would damage Ireland’s already faltering education system. The budget will undoubtedly yield some bad news for students but let’s hope that Ruari Quinn can find a better solution to the problems faced – without neglecting his pre-election vows.
Will this put extra pressure on Leaving Cert students? Do you think that college fee’s will rise in the December budget?