Fórsa backed last month’s student-led demonstrations against insufficient higher education funding. The protests, which took place at college campuses around the country, called on the Government to close the deficit caused by years of underinvestment in the sector.
The protests were also backed by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and the Coalition for Publicly Funded Higher Education. Fórsa is a member of the Coalition which, last May, called for a minimum investment of €199 million to be allocated for 2019.
It said the figure was based on Fine Gael manifesto promises and the Cassells report into higher education funding, both of which said investment of €100 million a year was the minimum annual investment necessary to keep pace with demographic changes.
Gina O’Brien, who chairs Fórsa’s Education Division, said the participation of students, staff and lecturers from second and third-level institutions in the protests demonstrated the widespread dissatisfaction with funding levels in the sector in recent years.
“We are calling on the Government to address the funding issue at third level, which it has ignored for many years. While we welcome recent increases in spending in the sector, they fall far short of what is needed to address the crisis,” she said.
Last June the coalition published a survey, which showed that over 90% of people who expressed a preference backed increased investment in higher education.
Carried out by polling organisation Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A), the research found that between 54% and 70% of all age groups said they agreed strongly with the statement ‘public investment in the higher education sector should be increased,’ with support strongest among those aged below 25.