Andrew Deeks, President of UCD, has expressed his dissatisfaction at Budget 2018. He used his Presidential Bulletin, sent to all UCD Staff members, to offer a commentary on it, just after its release on Tuesday, October 10th.  Deeks stated it ‘provides us with little cause for celebration, but at least is further confirmation that the era of cuts is behind us.’

The main provision of an extra €17 million for the Education Sector to ‘deal with demographic student number increases is welcome, and should prevent the resource we receive per student slipping further.’ Regarding staff pay, he noted that ‘provision appears to have been made for the unavoidable increased expenditure due to pay reinstatement due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, although it is unclear at this stage whether our full additional costs will be covered.’

President Deeks took issue with the 0.1% increase in the National Training Levy, which is supposed to create an additional investment of €47.5 million in the Higher and Further Education Sectors. Upon ‘close examination’ of the document, it reveals that ‘€45.5million of this is to be spent on additional apprenticeship and training schemes, expansion of Springboard and Skillnets, and additional regional reskilling and upskilling,’ leaving just €2 million in additional funding to be spent on other initiatives.

Based on all these observations, President Deeks concluded it was a ‘standstill budget at best, and ‘certainly not one which will contribute to Ireland having the best education system in Europe by 2026.’ Therefore, UCD ‘will have to continue to look to our own initiative to improve our financial position and to achieve the objectives of our Strategy.’

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, offered a more upbeat view on the Budget. She expressed delight at the additional funding allocated to establish the SFI Future Milk Research Centre, led by Teagasc, as the Centre includes UCD researchers. Feely also noted that ‘increased capital funding will allow Ireland finally to join the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is a significant development for our astronomers in UCD’s School of Physics and in the many businesses that will benefit from this membership.’

Cian Carton – Editor