May 3, 2020

Universities Fear €200m Drop-Off in Revenue From International Students

Jim Miley, the director general of the Irish Universities Association, said the fall in revenue will deal a ‘massive blow’ to third-level.

Donal MacNameeEditor
Ivan Rakhmanin for The University Times

Irish universities could lose out on up to €200 million in international student revenue next year – a “massive blow”, according to one of the sector’s experts.

Jim Miley, the director general of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), told RTÉ Radio 1 today that colleges are bracing for an 80 per cent reduction in the number of first-year students coming from abroad next year.

Repeating a call made by Provost Patrick Prendergast last week, Miley said the government must invest in third-level education in order to enable the sector to “be part of the solution in rebooting the economy” after the coronavirus pandemic.


“What’s critical is that we need supports if we’re to meet those challenges and to be partners in the recovery with government”, Miley added.

He said universities hope the loss of international student revenue “will be temporary – that we will recover this critical business in two to three years”.

In the meantime, though, the fall represents a “massive blow”, he said.

Universities are becoming increasingly vocal in their pleas for government support amid predictions of huge revenue drop-offs.

Last week, Provost Patrick Prendergast urged the government to step in with support “as a matter of urgency”, arguing “education shouldn’t be way down the list” when it comes to state funding priorities.

In an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Prendergast said Ireland’s universities are in a “serious financial situation” as a result of the pandemic.

Universities, he said, are going to lose out on much of the revenue they generate, “yet we have to deliver 100 per cent of our activities under even more challenging circumstances”.

Prendergast added that “education shouldn’t be way down the list” when it comes to the government’s funding priorities. “Education should be on the top of the list”, he said.

“We’d be saying it’s just not good enough that education – third-level, secondary or primary – should be way down the list.”

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