Failure of Government to Honour Funding Commitments will lead to a crisis in Uni

Monday, 20 October 2003

Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway has described the Government's decision, to 'pause' capital spending under the Government's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) for 2003, as a cause of very serious concern to the Third-Level sector, and urged the Government to honour its commitment to Third Level Education in the interests of making Ireland more competitive in a global context.

Dr Ó Muircheartaigh's comments were conveyed at a conferring ceremony today (Monday 20 October 2003) in the University, where he also referred to the Government's current approach to PRTLI capital programme as potentially disastrous from both an institutional and a national point of view.

He emphasised that NUI Galway and other universities were working to maximise income from all sources, including private fundraising and revenue generating activities.

"The Universities and private philanthropy are playing their part in strengthening the education sector. I call on Government to honour its commitment to higher education in the interests of making Ireland more competitive," he said.

Continuing, "Irish universities not only provide the innovation capable of stimulating new production, they also generate a skilled and flexible workforce which is vital in meeting the challenges of the 21st century".

Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh outlined that the construction of a new engineering facility was a capital project priority for NUI Galway and that to meet the demand for engineers across all sectors, undergraduate numbers at the University at the very least need to be maintained. However, this would be impossible without adequate Government funding to build a new facility. "The existence of a flagship Engineering building will play a decisive role in attracting further direct inward investment to the region as it has done in the biomedical and other sectors," he said.

Praising the Government's record in state support for research over the last four years with initiatives such as Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) & Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI), he described the need for continued research and capital funding of education as being of national strategic importance.

His comments were made in a week when NUI Galway will confer degrees and diplomas on over 3,247 graduates in 17 conferring ceremonies throughout the week. These remarks follow the announcement last week of a donation of €18 million from Atlantic Philanthropies for three new projects on campus - the largest single gift in the University's history.

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