18 Ocotber 2017
By Elaine Murphy
11 new Higher Education buildings to provide over 8,000 new student places
The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., have announced €200 million in investment in Institutes of Technology around the country. This announcement fulfills a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade.
Welcoming the announcement, Foreign Affairs Minister Coveney said, “This is exciting news for Cork, as Cork Institute of Technology will benefit from increased funding, further strengthening STEM-related skills across ICT, engineering, and life sciences as well as supporting new facilities which will help drive regional development and will be transformative for the Cork region.”
The proposed project at CIT is the construction of a Learning Resource Centre which would accommodate learning, study, exhibition, engagement and entrepreneurial space. It would allow CIT to increase capacity across STEM, business and humanities subjects.
This PPP Programme is being rolled-out alongside €367 million in funding from the Department of Education and Skills for investment in higher education over the period 2018-2021. Minister Bruton and Minister Mitchell O’Connor secured €257 million of this additional funding in the Budget last week following the mid-term review of the Capital Plan.
Minister Bruton stated:
“I have set the ambition to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade. State of the art facilities are key to realizing this ambition and I am delighted to be here today with Minister Mitchell O’Connor to announce this new programme of investment.
“Today, we are announcing the eleven major infrastructure projects to be delivered around the country as part of a €200 million PPP Programme for the higher education sector. These projects will be delivered in every province, in locations extending from Letterkenny to Waterford, and from Galway to Dublin.
“The delivery of these projects, together with the additional €257m over three years capital funding which we secured last week in the Budget, mark a turning point for State investment in the higher education sector. They demonstrate the commitment of the Government to supporting the sector in catering for demographic growth, responding to skills needs in the economy and improving the campus environment for students and staff.
“The locality will also benefit from the new facilities being provided as many HEIs make their grounds and buildings available to the community. It is also expected to provide an important boost to the relevant local economies and to the construction industry, creating approximately 1,500 construction-related jobs during the construction phase alone.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:
“I am delighted that the PPP programme we are announcing today will provide eleven new state of the art buildings and that it will have such a strong focus on supporting regional development.
“The projects announced today will be focused on the Institute of Technology sector. The sector that is key to our dual aims of increasing access to education and ensuring we are producing graduates that are fit for purpose in a changing economy.
“Institutes of Technology have been disproportionately affected by the fall-off in capital investment in higher education over the past decade. And yet they have still shown a level of flexibility and innovation that rivals any other sector. In recent times the infrastructure hasn’t evolved or improved quickly enough to match their dynamism. We’re starting the process of changing that today. Today’s investment will help cater for new approaches that promote innovation and make use of the latest technologies.
“Many of our Institutes are working towards the attainment of Technological University status and the new infrastructure will support them in that aim.
“The move towards Technological Universities is a game changer for the sector. It’s a significant, welcome structural change. And is an example of the kind of vision and big thinking we need to progress our society.
“Technological Universities will provide the opportunity to drive regional development, provide more opportunities for students, and create a step change in the impact and influence of these institutions regionally, nationally and internationally. My intention is to progress the legislation as quickly as possible. Because it’s essential that we make rapid progress on this issue.
“The projects announced today will address a diversity of skills areas. A majority of new student places will be generated in critical STEM areas but we are also responding to wider skills needs in the economy, with support for digital media and design provision, culinary arts, and teaching and collaborative workspace that is purpose-built for the teaching and learning needs of today. The buildings will also allow Institutions to expand their flexible and blended learning provision, with scope for online learning delivery.”