The Irish Universities Association warmly welcomes today's ground-breaking Budget statement by the Minister for Finance on investment in "Fourth-level Ireland
IUA President Ferdinand von Prondzynski said "Minister Cowen in his ringing endorsement of the pivotal contribution of higher education to the country's economic success and its fundamental strategic importance to future economic and social development had set a unique setting for a highly significant investment package for higher education"
He added "the Budget statement heralds a vitally important development phase for higher education and research and is a strong signal of the Government's commitment to creating a highly competitive Irish university system of top international ranking"
The University Heads are encouraged that the Minister recognises that the benchmarks for performance and investment at third and fourth levels are international.
They see the strategic innovation fund as a bridge to further investment in the national research plan and the national development plan.
The announcement of a strategic innovation fund, the commitment to a multi-annual rolling capital programme, the forthcoming national research plan and the priority to be given to higher education and research as a key strategy in the next national development plan, together provide a considerable boost for a comprehensive transformation of the university sector.
The University Heads are particularly encouraged that the Government views these developments as a coherent package of strategic initiatives with a synergistic potential that must be exploited in order to maximise the contribution of universities to economic and social progress.
They wish to assure the Government that they are fully committed to meeting the reform challenges identified by the Minister for Finance, to collaborating to develop critical mass in excellence, to maximising effectiveness across the higher education system and to working in partnership with Government to achieve national objectives.
The IUA looks forward to a statement to be made by the Minister for Education and Science giving further details on the Government's initiatives