This is the text of an unpublished letter I wrote to the Irish Times a few weeks bag. Given this announcement, I thought it might be worth reproducing here.
The subtext of recent discussions regarding the possible introduction of student loans for third level education is that the state simply cannot continue to bear the ‘burden’ of educating its citizens. However, it is worth noting that in its recently-announced capital investment plan, Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021, the government has allocated a mere €110 million for Higher Education out of a total exchequer spend of €27 billion. Interestingly it is planned to spend just over €3 billion on ‘Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation‘ an area where we have traditionally relied heavily on claims about our ‘highly educated workforce’.
These numbers would seem to suggest a certain mindset within government whereby third level education is seen as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’ and this mindset is colouring the entire conversation around how we should fund our third level sector.