Warning over cut to staffing levels


THIRD LEVEL:STUDENT NUMBERS in the institutes of technology have increased by 18 per cent since 2008 – but staff numbers have decreased by 7 per cent over the same period, according to new figures from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

A further 2 per cent cut in staff numbers is planned for this year.

The union has warned that class sizes and lecturer workload have increased significantly as a result, with appropriate levels of support no longer available to those students who require them.

This increased workload, it says, is having a severely detrimental effect on the research capacity of institutes.

Between 2007/08 and 2010/11, student numbers jumped from 51,572 to 62,885 while lecturer numbers fell from 4,799 to 4,516.

The union’s general secretary, John MacGabhann, said: “This stark change in demographics has led to a significant increase in class sizes. As a result, lecturers are finding themselves more and more stretched and students are struggling to access feedback and personal attention in a timely manner.

“Meanwhile, those students who require particular support to enable them to benefit fully from and complete their studies are especially hard hit. Academic support has been identified as being of huge importance in institutes of technology in order to increase retention and completion rates.’’

Lecturers in the institutes, he said, already have a far heavier teaching load than their colleagues in other higher education institutions, both nationally and internationally.

“Workload involving assessment, examinations, feedback and administrative duties has increased massively.” Mr MacGabhann said.