February 9, 2024
McDonald, Farrell and Archibald welcome constructive engagement with Irish Universities Association (IUA)

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, spokesperson for Further and Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell, and Caoimhe Archibald, Minister for Finance (Stormont), today welcomed the positive and constructive engagement with the Irish Universities Association (IUA) following today’s meeting with the IUA Council and the seven Presidents of the member Universities.  

Several key issues were discussed such as the ongoing deficit in the sector’s core funding, north-south mobility in higher education, the student accommodation crisis, and the efforts to further the state becoming a leader in research and development.
 
Uachtarán McDonald said:
 
“Today’s meeting was very welcome and I want to acknowledge the important role the IUA has been playing as a voice for the University sector. Higher Education has long been at the forefront of our plans for delivering positive change in this state.
 
“We have a long and proud track record in this state when it comes to higher education and we in Sinn Féin are preparing for the next chapter in that success. Nevertheless, we are aware of the challenges and as I made clear to the IUA and the University Presidents we have listened intently to their views.
 
“My colleague Teachta Mairéad Farrell, as our spokesperson for Further and Higher Education, has undertaken significant engagement with the sector from the University Presidents, to the students unions, to early career academics.
 
“As a result, we believe that we have developed a suite of measures that can not only address challenges but also realise new potential opportunities and place the sector on an even stronger footing going forward.”
 
Teachta Farrell stated:
 
“Since becoming spokesperson for Further and Higher Education I have been meeting with the various Presidents and have had many fruitful discussions.
 
“I have tried to outline how we would address issues and strengthen the sector should we find ourselves in government.”
 
“I have also had the good fortune to deal with the Irish Universities Association (IUA) which has facilitated greater co-ordination between our universities allowing them to speak with one voice.
 
“We are now well past the period of austerity, yet there are lingering issues which have gone unresolved by this government, such as core funding and inadequate staff pupil ratios. There are also issue like student accommodation which have gotten worse due to government policy and continue to deteriorate further.
 
“The time for paying mere lip service to these issues is long past. We need a Minister of Further and Higher Education who has the measure of the problem. A focus on real solutions rather mere optics is what is called for.”