The Budget brought immediate relief for college students, with a €1,000 cut in fees this year – but universities are critical of the funding they will receive for 2023.
he one-off €1,000 reduction in the €3,000 annual charge to alleviate inflationary pressures will be followed next year with a permanent €500 reduction for families who have an income of between €62,000 and €100,000, with a €1,500 cap for households with an income of between €55,240-€62,000.
Students on grants will also benefit from reforms, which will see increases in January of between 10pc and 14pc, as well as one-off cost-of-living measures for all students.
The Irish Universities Association (IUA) said while there were many positive elements for higher education, the €40m provided for the deficit in core funding was “very disappointing”.
Overall, Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said there would be €150m over 2022 and 2023 for higher education to strengthen the financial position of universities and to enable growth.
IUA director general Jim Miley said the €40m for core funding represented only 13pc of the €307m gap to which the Government had committed closing in its Funding the Future strategy earlier this year.
Mr Miley welcomed the provision of €32m to fund extra students arising from demographic growth but said “there needs to be greater urgency in closing the funding gap. If the annual rate of funding increase were to continue at the rate of €40m, it would take eight years to close the gap. This is unacceptable”.
IUA chair Professor Mark Rogers, who is interim president of UCD, said the gap in funding “urgently needs to be filled and a €40m increase is far short of the €307m identified”.
Funding for higher education also includes a one-off contribution of €10m towards energy costs and a commitment to fully fund pay awards and pensions. The IUA noted there was no specific provision for the expansion of student accommodation in the Budget and said it was “essential that this is agreed in order to begin to address the crisis experienced by our students”.