The director general of the Irish Universities Association, Jim Miley, has warned that it is “absolutely critical” for the Government to invest in education as it remains the “calling card” for the economy.
Mr Miley was commenting on Newstalk Breakfast about the options paper published by the Department of Higher Education on Monday on how to deal with the increased cost of living.
Reductions in student registration fees and an increase in grants for third level students were among the options included. However, Mr Miley cautioned that the Government needed to address “both sides of the problem”.
Reducing registration fees or increasing grants for students would mean more students entering a system that was already underfunded.
The Irish higher education system was “out of kilter”, he said. The student-teacher ratio in Ireland was 20:1 while it is 15:1 in the rest of Europe. “Education is all about people. Most of the cost goes to staff.”
More funding for colleges themselves was required to maintain “the knowledge economy” which was lauded by the IDA, he added. “The way to do that is to invest in education.”
Education needed to be made affordable and accessible, he said.