Irish third level institutions deliver value for money - study

Gross income of 21 institutions in 2010/11 was €2.6 billion with national ouput of €10.5 billion

Trinity College, Dublin. Despite slipping in international rankings, a study has found Irish third level institutions deliver good value for the amount of money invested in them. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Trinity College, Dublin. Despite slipping in international rankings, a study has found Irish third level institutions deliver good value for the amount of money invested in them. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

Irish higher education institutions deliver a good return on the money invested in them by the public and private sectors, according to an analysis of their income and outgoings.

They perform at close to “best in class” for similar institutions in the UK and US, the study finds.

This also makes it possible to rank the institutions to see which ones deliver the highest percentage yield on investment, explained Prof Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin who co-authored the report with colleagues Qiantao Zhang, and Charles Larkin.

The Tionchar project is an effort to analyse the economic impact of our higher education sector including universities and institutes of technology, using funding from Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, Prof Lucey said.

“We want to look at the impact of the national capacity of primary innovation and research and development in the universities and institutes.”

The preliminary results of the study are due to be released this afternoon at the annual Dublin Economics Workshop in Cork, Prof Lucey said.

The long established methods applied look at returns on investment “in the same way as a restaurant or a supermarket or an airport”, the authors say.

These baseline figures show that the gross income of all 21 institutions included in the study was €2.6 billion in 2010-11 and generated gross output nationally of €10.5 billion, Prof Lucey said.

This gives a “multiplier” effect of about four, so for every €1 invested by private or public sources the institutions on average give a return of €4. “Outputs are at least as good as best in class in the US and the UK,” Prof Lucey said yesterday, ahead of today’s workshop.

The study found that Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology had the lowest output multiplier of 3.62, while Letterkenny Institute of Technology had the highest multiplier of 4.25, Prof Lucey said.

The LIT figure was a reflection of the large economic impact such an institution could have in a rural area. But the study found that there was no link between the size of an institution or its student population and the size of the multiplier, he said.

Dublin City University had a 4.17 multiplier with Trinity matching it followed by University College Dublin at 4.14, the study found. The institutes of technology claimed the middle ground between 4.09 and 3.96, ahead of University College Cork (3.86), NUI Galway (3.79), NUI Maynooth (3.74) and University of Limerick (3.63).

This was a “study in progress” the authors say, but the figures showed Ireland’s higher education sector “offers excellent value for money” an d was a major contributor to economic activity and employment.