A radical overhaul of further education and more cash for university research were demanded by the Northern Ireland Assembly as it faced political oblivion.
In what could be the last big debate at Stormont before it is suspended over the failure of the IRA to decommission arms, members this week backed a report that also called for more higher education links to industry.
The report of the assembly's scrutiny committee on further and higher education called for more money to boost vocational training and for a strategic plan for further education that addresses parity between vocational and academic qualifications.
Committee chairman Esmond Birnie said it was clear that both higher and further education required more financial resources.
The report calls for more money to improve adult numeracy and literacy and for a review of the curriculum for 16 to 19-year-olds to halt the decline in numbers studying maths and sciences.
Foyle Sinn Fein member Mary Nelis said the executive should work with the Irish Republic on a cross-border education system.
Committee deputy chairman Mervyn Carrick, of the Democratic Unionist Party, said although there had been significant advances in education and training, much remained to be done.