Recent discussion on university funding has been on the basis of the Public Accounts Committee report. This, along with the RTE Prime-time Investigates program, has led to a perception of a state funded sector out of financial control. Both of these are wrong.
It is surprisingly difficult to get a consistent picture of university income in Ireland over the last decade. Accounting conventions have changed, as have the requirements from the Higher Education Authority in terms of detail. Finally, despite it being half way through 2017 it seems some, many, universities have not managed to get their 2016 or even 2015 accounts up and out. Continue reading
Governments usually, and often quite correctly, come in for severe stick for lack of joined up thinking. In that regard it is quite pleasant to see the initiative from the Department of Social Protection on moneylenders. Linking repayment to credit union loans to welfare payments allows low risk in lending and thus low interest rates. Would that similar joined up thinking pervaded the issue of student loans. Continue reading
The publication of the long delayed and much leaked cassells report on third level financing is both welcome and depressing. It is welcome in that finally there is a clear and unambigious analysis of the financial mess in which the sector finds itself. It outlines clearly the contribution to economy and society that can be made by a well functioning and well resourced third level sector, and is blunt in the analysis of the need for immediate and ongoing resources. It is depressing in that it took nanoseconds for the old habits of irish policymaking, ideological biases and selective analyses, to emerge. It is also somewhat depressing that the underlying economic analysis of the sector is incomplete. That said, the report is peerless in its analysis of the problems and the immediate and longterm finanial and resource needs. Where I take some issue is with a fundemental and indeed perhaps unknowing assumption.
Via Jack Horgan-Jones, and the Sunday Business Post, a list of all companies who have used the controversial Jobbridge programme was listed today. Jobbridge is a program of labour market activation whereby persons on unemployment get paid €50 extra to be placed in a otherwise fulltime position. It is supposed to be a training and reintegrating into the workforce scheme.
Included within are some higher education institutions. See below for the list. In total, 90,000 working days actual or proposed seem to have been used by these institutions. Im pretty conflicted by this. At one level job activation schemes are a good idea. But without careful monitoring they become a way for workers to be exploited and for employers to get cheap work done that might otherwise have to paid full market rate.
I don’t know why I am surprised at Renua. I guess its that when a new political party emerges there is an opportunity for it to really take a radical, evidence based look at areas and suggest alternatives to how we do things. Renua, in its election manifesto education proposals, has merely produced an ideological grabbag of tropes and clichés. It is barely worth a passing grade. It would result in a gradgrindian system and should be rejected forthwith.
The Cassells report on future university funding, widely leaked (remember when government decisions were taken and then announced and when leaks were newsworthy not news?) has good and bad points in plenty. Continue reading