DCU president says university rankings dip is wake-up call

Government needs to consider income-contingent loan scheme, says Brian MacCraith

Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University: “An immediate investment of at least €100 million is required for the third-level sector in the upcoming budget.” Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University: “An immediate investment of at least €100 million is required for the third-level sector in the upcoming budget.” Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

The fall of Irish universities in this week’s QS World University Rankings represents a “tipping point” for the third-level sector, according to Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University (DCU).

“This has to be a wake-up call to the Government,” he said. “Investment per student has dropped by at least 30 per cent over the past seven years. An immediate investment of at least €100 million is required for the third-level sector in the upcoming budget.”

He said the Government needs to consider an income-contingent loan scheme.

‘Zero-hours contracts’

But, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) opposes this, saying higher education should be funded from general taxation.

USI president Annie Hoey said the drop in world rankings is due to budget cuts, rising student numbers and high student-teacher ratios. “The rise of zero-hours contracts to employ academic staff doesn’t encourage or attract people to the profession which has a negative effect on the quality of the teaching, the quality of the learning and the quality of the institutions.”

USI is calling for a reduction in the student contribution fee of at least €500, as well as a €140 million investment and the reinstatement of postgraduate grants.

Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne called for an urgent review of funding after the QS results saw seven of the State’s eight universities drop in position.“They [rankings] are important for universities competing to attract international students and staff,” he said, adding that €100 million extra in core funding should be provided.

Danny McCoy, the chief executive of employers’ group Ibec, called for an injection of public investment and the introduction of an income-contingent student-loan scheme.