Everyone claims there is a financial crisis in higher education. So two recent announcements made me pause for thought. Trinity’s announcement of a one billion euro innovation campus and UCD’s announcement of a 48 million euro innovation and creativity centre (or something) seem somewhat incongruous. I’m surprised that no one – in the media or in politics – has asked what the impact of these prestige projects are likely to have on the funding available for undergraduate education. I’m sure the funding arrangements are complex and I don’t know what they are, but I’d imagine some borrowing will be involved. And loans have to be paid off.
Whenever I chat to colleagues about issues like this, they often express frustration that funding can always be found for pet projects but never for the nuts and bolts of undergraduate teaching. They might be right.