IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, today welcomed the Government's plan to reorganise the country’s higher education sector, including the creation of new technological universities, but warned that its success will be judged by its contribution to growth and employment.
IBEC Head of Education Policy Tony Donohoe said: "Ireland has the highest percentage of young people progressing to higher education in the EU (almost 60%), but over one in four young people are unemployed. It is vital that universities and institutes of technology equip students with the skills needed in the jobs market and work with business to bring the learning experience closer to the world of work.
"The creation of technological universities with an explicit focus on enterprise, the increased emphasis on institutions collaborating and engaging with their own regions, and the consolidation of the 39 publicly-funded higher education institutions are all steps in the right direction. We need coherence and certainty if the higher education system is to successfully deliver the levels of efficiency, performance and innovation needed to support Ireland’s economic recovery and social development over the coming years.
"Funding remains a critical challenge. We have reached a tipping point in terms of the impact of funding cuts on quality. The Government should put in place an effective student fees and loan system to underpin the sustainability of a high-quality higher education system."