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October 13, 2009

My 100 Million Euro Mistake

At The Dervala LectureA FEW DAYS AGO, I was wrong to cite a figure of €100 million in relation to Tipperary Institute. I was wrong by a factor of 10. But I was not alone in my casual use of isolated financial data. The 9th Level aggregator picked up my incorrect figure and dropped it into the research folders of several reporters where it may be recited as an authoritative number when it actually lacks standing. I'm not alone in picking up on the 100 million euro number. It originated in the McCarthy report where the cost of education at Tipperary Institute is reported incorrectly. The financial analysts wrongly attribute an entire pot of money to education when a deeper analysis of the data shows the contribution made by the Irish Exchequer actually covers a wider swath of activities. Grainne Fuller in the Irish Times recited the €100m figure in the context of the McCarthy Report without disputing its accuracy but her article does offer further discussion about the reach of Tipperary's third level institution--a deep reach into Ireland's start-up ecosystem, community development programmes and well-established outreach in Ireland.

For the record, Tipperary Institute has received approximately €10.5 million per annum from the Exchequer since 1999. Some of this funding was start-up money needed to secure property, start building construction and set up technical laboratory space or specialised classrooms as shown in the photo (above left). When those funds are factored across the number of students in Tipperary Institute, the cost of third level education in Tipperary Institute appears to be higher than in other institutions. Start-up expenditures and ancillary costings are normally not used when accounting for the efficiency of current expenses. A third level review team, appointed by the Minister for Education, has visited Tipperary Institute to make a thorough analysis of the data. That Third Level Report will form part of the Irish strategy through the next decade. Like many readers of my blog, I am very interested in the formal release of the Third Level Review in Ireland. In the meantime, I'm adding a "corrections" category to my blog because this 100 million euro is not the first mistake made by me. And I'm also joining a Facebook group that arose on the heels of my incorrect post.

Previously -- "The Battle for Tipperary Institute" and on 9th Level Ireland Aggregator.

Grainne Faller -- "Tense Times in Tipperary as Institute Struggles Forward"in the Irish Times.

Niall Murray -- Third-level institutions may have to find more savings" in the Irish Examiner, 13 Oct 09.

Volume 1 of the McCarthy Report : PDF

Bonus Link: Day Courses 3rd Level Forum



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