Town Hall jointly hosted by Maynooth University and MU Students’ Union
General election candidates from Kildare North and Meath East debated the future funding of higher education at a town hall meeting hosted today (Tuesday, 4 February) by Maynooth University and Maynooth Students’ Union.
Candidates debated the crisis in third level funding and responded to audience questions across a range of policy issues, including how their parties would address a 40% drop in state funding per student over the past decade.
Five candidates accepted an invitation to participate: Fine Gael Deputy Bernard Durkan (Kildare North), Fianna Fáil Deputy James Lawless (Kildare North), Green Party Cllr Vincent P. Martin (Kildare North), Green Party candidate Sean McCabe (Meath East) and People Before Profit candidate Paul Mahon (Kildare North).
Welcoming the candidates to campus, Prof Philip Nolan, President of Maynooth University, said: “The Irish third level education system, which has been the driver of this nation’s economic success and resilience for decades, has reached a crisis point. Student enrolment across the university grew by 21,000 students between 2008 and 2018. Here at Maynooth University, we accounted for 22% of that growth.”
Prof Nolan said: “The funding shortfall is now at a critical juncture. There is a real risk that the quality of our higher education system, already showing signs of strain as represented by a fall in international rankings, will be seriously damaged. If we allow that to happen, it could take years, even decades, to recover the lost ground.”