THEA welcomes recognition of role played by education in Minister Donohoe’s Budget 2017 speech

The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) welcomed the recognition in today’s budget speech by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Paschal Donohoe T.D., of the critical role of education in maintaining the economy’s competitiveness, especially in preparation for a post Brexit world.

“THEA warmly welcomes the increase in the National Training Fund Levy from 0.7% to 0.8% in 2018 and the announcement that the levy will rise to 1% by 2020,” stated Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO THEA. “The sector regards this as but one contribution to the overall funding of higher and further education but it is a most significant element given the increasing cooperation between enterprise and academia.

“The 14 Institutes of Technologies have played a major part in the economic recovery across all regions and have demonstrated exceptional resilience and flexibility during the past decade, despite a long period of drought as a result of the economic crisis. As the sector within higher education which particularly addresses the issues of access, participation, and disadvantage, we particularly welcome the commitment of Government today to an additional €310m of capital investment out to 2021. The related investment in the development of the regions is also acknowledged and will be most welcome in supporting Government policy in this regard.

“Given the Technological sector’s key role in working with enterprise towards economic sustainability and growth, THEA most warmly welcomes Government’s strong support for its own commitment to labour activation, the expansion of apprenticeship provision, and in fuelling the new funding allocation model which recognises the rich diversity of our higher education system.

“The technological sector has been central throughout its history in widening participation, in increasing access and in supporting flexible learning opportunities and progression. We are also central to the regional and national economic development project in ensuring an ongoing stream of employment-ready graduates, and in supporting innovation and product development through impact-focussed research. We look forward to working with the Department in ensuring the most effective targeting of any additional funds on each of these areas and also in contributing to the continuing national deliberations on the Cassell’s report on investing in national ambition.

“As a technological sector, we anticipate a future of exciting change and development as we prepare for the passing of the Technological Universities Bill. We welcome the budget intention to provide vital support for those Institutes of Technology who are electing to transition to Technological Universities; the funding allocated will allow them to focus on progression towards this status while placing the student at the heart of this transition, retaining the focus on participation and overcoming disadvantage and geographic dispersement. It allows the sector to continue to focus on the significance of regional economic contribution.”

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