USI raises concerns over higher level spending

Union leader calls for postponement of decision on funding of higher level education

The USI is opposed to the introduction of an income-contingent student loan system. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

The USI is opposed to the introduction of an income-contingent student loan system. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

The Union of Students in Ireland has raised concerns over spending by higher education institutions following recent revelations about severance payments made to senior personnel in the sector.

USI president Annie Hoey pointed out that students and the taxpayer fund the higher education institutions and said trust in their governance was “crucial”.

Calling on the Government to postpone any decision on the future funding of higher level institutions until trust is restored, Ms Hoey said: “Students in Ireland currently pay the second highest fees in Europe and now we are concerned how these fees are being spent.

“Before there can be any decision made on a new model to fund higher education we must have full faith that good governance and accountability procedures are being adhered to in our higher education institutions.

Last July, a report produced by the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education for the Government and overseen by former trade union secretary Peter Cassells outlined three options for the future funding of higher education institutions.

They are: a higher education system funded by general taxation with no student contribution fee; an increase in State spending and the retention of the existing €3,000 student contribution charge; or an income-contingent loan scheme.

The USI is opposed to the introduction of an income-contingent student loan system and supports instead the introduction of a model where the higher education system is funded by general taxation

Pointing to recent reports of poor corporate governance and the waste of taxpayers’ money in thesector, Ms Hoey said: “While investigations into these allegations is being made, it would be reckless for our Government to rush into any decision about the future funding of higher education.

“Higher education institutions are here to serve the public good, and the public must have confidence in how the funding of these institutions is managed. It would be inconceivable for our Government to even consider introducing Income Contingent Loans and putting students into €20,000 debt while trust in how funds are managed are now shaken”.