Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has called on Minister Harris to stop the ‘delay tactics’ and publish the independent economic report on the Cassells report on the funding needs of third level education.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“The Minister must stop the delay tactics and publish the findings of the independent consultants appointed by the EU Commission to assess the Cassells report in advance of the Budget next month.
“We have been waiting on this economic evaluation since November 2019 – on the Cassells report published in 2016. A report highlighting the urgent need to address the chronic underfunding of the higher education sector in the country.
“This underfunding has had substantial negative impact on the sector despite the best efforts of dedicated staff. It has also contributed in no small part to the lack of affordable on-campus accommodation.
“The Cassells report made clear in 2016 that action was needed and presented 3 options for how this could be funded. Sinn Féin have been unequivocal in our support Sinn Féin to option 1 of the three outlined in the Cassells report. This would mean a predominantly state-funded system. This means the removal of fees and the reversal of the commercialization of third level.
“Yet here we are 5 years later with another government avoiding taking any position or action.
“The Minister told me in September last year the report would be completed by the end of 2020. When I asked about it again this year, he told me it would be in March.
“The evaluation has now been sitting on the Minister’s desk since the beginning of the summer. There is no reason for the findings to be kept out of the public domain.
“Withholding the publication will be seen by the sector, students and staff as an attempt the kick the can further down the road and delay until after the budget is announced and no action can be taken for another year.
“I am calling on the Minister to end the 5 year wait and publish the finding in advance of Budget 2022 so that we can have a meaningful debate on putting higher education on a sustainable footing.”