Short-term funding for third-level under discussion, says Kenny

Micheál Martin tells Taoiseach that education is major budget issue for Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: ‘Obviously, we do not have an endless pot here.’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: ‘Obviously, we do not have an endless pot here.’

 

Cabinet discussions are under way about short-term funding of third-level education, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He told the Dáil on Tuesday Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe were discussing the issue.

He said the presidents of the universities had all made the same case to him about funding.

“They need big money and they need it now,’’ he added. “Obviously, we do not have an endless pot here.’’

Mr Kenny was replying, in his first Opposition Leaders’ Questions of the new Dáil term, to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who made it clear third-level funding would be a major issue for the party in next month’s budget.

Mr Martin said third-level funding could not be kicked down the road and must be faced up to in the budget. He said over €600 million was being sought by the sector over the next five years and it was imperative there was a realistic response in the budget.

Mr Kenny said everybody could agree the impact made by Irish students over the years had been quite extraordinary in many cases.

Everybody could agree something had to be done about this, he added. “It seems the disagreement is about where the money should come from,’’ he added.

Mr Bruton was anxious to hear the views of the members of the Oireachtas budgetary committee, he said.

Mr Martin said universities were declining in terms of ranking, while some institutes of technology were very close to insolvency.

There was little capital investment in third-level institutions for quite some time, he added.

“Investment in education is central to our economic future,’’ said Mr Martin.