Statement from Technological Higher Education Association
The budgetary announcement today by the Minister for State with responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, of €153 million increase in funding for Tertiary Education, and specifically the multi-annual programme of €90 million for Technological Universities is warmly welcomed by the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA).
Dr Joseph Ryan, Chief Executive of THEA stated: “At a time of acknowledged pressure on the public finances in the face of an uncertain Brexit, this €153 million increase in funding for Tertiary Education represents a significant vote of confidence in the catalytic power of higher education to protect and enhance our national interests. This multi-stranded injection will assist higher education to meet the ambitious expectations of it contained in national policy framed under Project Ireland 2040”.
TU Transformation Fund
The emergence of Technological Universities represents the most significant enhancement for Irish higher education in decades. The announcement of a multi-annual fund of €90 million to assist the development and progression of Technological Universities arising from the collective work of the TURN (Technological University Research Network) group is highly significant and recognizes that substantial support is necessary to effect successfully this scale of change. Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO of THEA commented that “The commitment to change that this asks of learners, of staff, and of communities who value hugely their regional institutes, is considerable and the challenge in creating these new entities should not be underestimated. The financial support announced in Budget 2020 will enable our Technological University consortia to deliver on the strategic priorities as set out in Government policy, specifically in relation to research-informed teaching and learning excellence, regional development, and socio-economic connectedness to the regions.”
Human Capital Initiative
THEA strongly welcomes the detail provided around the Human Capital Initiative that was originally introduced in the previous budget. This will assist students and business to calibrate offerings in an agile manner and in line with the needs of the economy. Dr Joseph Ryan noted that “the particular focus on innovation and agility within this call will assist the system as a whole to reorientate to meet the changing requirements of learners and society as we move away from a front-loaded education model to one where citizens are facilitated to engage with higher education as and when they need it”.
Student mental health and wellbeing
THEA is delighted to acknowledge the award of €2 million that is being provided for student mental health and wellbeing initiatives in the higher education sector. The increasing numbers and diversity of the student population brings with it a responsibility for the institutions to be able to support adequately their learning communities. THEA will be pleased to work closely with the Union of Students in Ireland, who have been strong advocates in this area, to build awareness of the requirements and increased resources that are necessary to ensure that all students have access to the supports they require through their learning journey.
Higher Education Research Excellence
THEA strongly welcomes the establishment of the €3.3 million fund to strengthen the international competitiveness and visibility of Ireland’s research capability. International collaboration is a key part of research and innovation in the technological sector. As an example, almost one-quarter of research activity each year within the technological sector is supported by involvement in pan-European research projects funded by the European Union, a significantly higher proportion than is typical across the wider Irish higher education sector. Securing funding from Horizon 2020 is a high priority for many of the institutions. Both WIT and CIT are ranked in the top 10 Irish higher education institutions in terms of funding secured from Horizon 2020, and at 17% CIT’s success rate is three points higher than the national average for higher education institutions. Horizon Europe will present a real opportunity for the sector to build on its Horizon 2020 success.
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For further information please contact:
Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO, THEA: (086) 6067313
Róisín O’Connell, Head of Communications, THEA: (087) 9193333