Education Futures group calls for establishment of third level forum

Coalition of students’ and trade unions says forum needed to tackle the crisis in higher & further education

Campaign group Education Futures has called for potential government partners to “back up their programme for government commitments with action” by setting up a third level forum to tackle the funding crisis in higher education and to ensure third level education is at the heart of the Irish recovery.

The campaign group was established in 2016 and is comprised of students’ and trade unions active on third level campuses across the country.

Education Futures chair Kevin Donoghue said: “This is not the first time a programme for government has given little by way of commitment to higher education funding. If they are serious about tackling this issue, the first step will be to establish the forum and include all major stakeholders.

“Successive governments have failed to adequately address the growing funding problem of higher education funding. The system can no longer subsist on vague commitments from governments who consistently undervalue the contribution made by our education communities,” he said.

Adrian Kane, public administration and communities divisional organiser with SIPTU, said: “In line with the commitments of an advanced social dialogue process contained in the Programme for Government, a third level forum should be established to bring about a sustainable future for the sector and ensure that third level education is at the heart of the recovery in the country.”

Reuban Murray, president of the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) said “Starting University any year is tough. Finding accommodation, buying books, paying your fees are a challenge. This year, however, students face a far bigger challenge.

“We call on the potential new government to introduce financial support and subsidies for these students, to provide them with some much needed relief. Let’s give the class of 2020 a fighting chance to make it to third level this year,” he said.