March 28, 2024
Simon Harris can’t wash his hands of financial crisis at University of Limerick – Mairéad Farrell TD

Mairéad Farrell TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, has called on Minister Harris to quickly intervene in the growing financial crises being faced by the University of Limerick and other universities struggling with financial deficits.

The issue of the core funding deficit for the sector, which currently stands at €207m, was one that Minister Harris was supposed to get to grips with. However, progress has been much too slow and we know that universities are continuing to struggle with a funding gap which is a hangover from the austerity period.

Teachta Farrell said:

“I am aware of the accusations of financial mismanagement at the University of Limerick in relation to the acquisition of student accommodation, and questions in relation to the apparent excessive price paid for these properties. We need to hear from the University’s management immediately.

“I am aware that the Higher Education Authority is initiating a review into this matter. This is the second review they have announced this year, following on foot of a review of Technological University Dublin arising from concerns over the management of a financial deficit of €8.6 million.

“In January, UCC confirmed that it had identified a financial deficit in its 2022 to 2023 accounts of €11.2m, which they have attributed to significant cost growth.

“I have long been calling for the closing of the core funding deficit for the University sector. I recognise that the sector was often asked to do more with less. This has happened in Simon Harris’ watch. 

“However, it is imperative that if the funding that is required to close the sector’s deficit, that it will be managed appropriately. I have been working on legislation that would allow the National Training Fund to be used to support the sector in its acquisition of research consumables, but we need to know that this money will be well spent.

“In relation to the current issue facing University of Limerick, in instances where there is such an excessive price paid above market value it raises serious questions.

“I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of the HEA’s review but these are concerning issues.”

“Minister Harris must get to grips with this now. This has happened on his watch.”

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