€200 Million PPP Investment Programme Announced for Institutes of Technology

“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 work space 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.”

A full list of projects to be included in the PPP Programme is as follows:

Athlone Institute of Technology
STEM Building
Cork Institute of Technology
Learning Resource Centre
Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire
Digital Media Building
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
STEM Building
IT Blanchardstown
Phase 2 Teaching Block
IT Carlow
Science Building
IT Tallaght
Phase 2 Campus Development
IT Tralee
STEM Building, North Campus
Letterkenny Institute of Technology
Library, IT and Teaching Building
Limerick Institute of Technology
Applied Science and IT Building
Waterford Institute of Technology
Engineering, Computing and General Teaching Building

The 11 projects will be procured on behalf of the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Skills by the National Development Finance Agency.
While the intended location and skills focus of projects today is being announced today, it should be noted that all proposals will be the subject of ongoing technical appraisal and economic analysis to ensure value for money is achieved. This process will inform the final scale and scope of each project, which will be approved and announced prior to procurement.

The projects have been selected for inclusion in the Programme following a detailed assessment undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which took account of factors such as projected enrolments, capacity to deliver on skills requirements, the potential to contribute to regional development, and an economic analysis of the costs and benefits. The relevant circumstances of each institution and the objective of achieving maximum impact from the limited capital envelope were also key considerations.

In the next stage of the process, the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) will procure technical advisers on behalf of the Department to bring the projects through planning and to procurement stage. It should be noted that value for money aspects will continue to be monitored as projects are progressed, including updating economic appraisals where necessary, and undergoing the value for money tests that form part of PPP assessment. A project may be removed from the Programme if value for money requirements are not met.

The total floor area in new infrastructure to be delivered through the PPP programme will be over 70,000m2. The floor area of each building will be confirmed as part of the detailed technical design process, review of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBAs), and engagement with each Institute of Technology. Costs for each building will not be announced as is the norm in such a PPP procurement process. The total capital envelope for the programme amounts to approximately €200 million ex VAT.

The projects will facilitate an additional 8,000 new student places. These will be created primarily through the provision of new accommodation in the PPP buildings. However, in many cases, the provision of these buildings will free up space in existing buildings and allow for new student places there. It should also be noted that the new PPP buildings will also provide upgraded accommodation for existing students.

The following is a summary description of each of the eleven projects being announced today:
Athlone Institute of Technology
Athlone Institute of Technology is aiming to develop a new STEM facility which will include science labs, lecture theatres, classrooms and other facilities.
Institute of Technology Blanchardstown
As part of its campus Masterplan, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown is aiming to expand its general teaching facilities to support growth in student numbers across a range of disciplines.
Institute of Technology Carlow
The project in Institute of Technology Carlow would provide additional space for STEM provision, in particular science.
Cork Institute of Technology
The proposed project 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.
Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire.
The proposed project is the construction of a Digital Media Building which will house the animation and visual design communications labs, with capacity also for growth in courses in creative computing, entrepreneurship and creative technologies.
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
GMIT has proposed the construction of a new STEM building, which would include labs, multi-purpose rooms, lab support rooms, seminar rooms and classrooms.
Limerick Institute of Technology
The proposed project is the construction of a new Applied Science & IT building on the LIT Moylish campus. The building would accommodate science labs, flat teaching facilities, computer labs, tutorial rooms, breakout and meeting spaces.
Letterkenny Institute of Technology
The project proposed is the construction of a Library and General Education Building which will accommodate a learning resource centre, IT and innovation laboratories, online learning delivery rooms and classrooms.
Institute of Technology Tallaght
The project proposed by IT Tallaght includes a technical development centre (i.e. practice based learning facilities for engineering and science courses); facilities for the culinary arts; and new classrooms and computer labs.
Institute of Technology Tralee
The proposed project is the construction of a building to accommodate the STEM School of IT Tralee. The STEM building would be located at the Institute’s north Campus at Dromtacker.
Waterford Institute of Technology
The project would consist of the construction of a new Engineering, Computing and General Teaching Building at WIT’s Cork Road Campus. It would provide for the consolidation of a number of faculties in one space and generate efficiencies in that respect.

Note on Public Private Partnerships
A Public Private Partnership or a PPP is a contract between a public sector contracting authority and a private sector company (PPP Co.) for the provision of public works and/or services. Typically the State procures buildings under the form of an “availability based” PPP contract whereby the PPP Co. is responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of public buildings and facilities on land provided by the State.

In exchange for this, the State pays a “monthly availability payment”. The duration of the services phase of a PPP contract (and monthly availability payment) is typically 25 years. The State payment of the monthly availability payment is dependent on the building and facilities being maintained to an acceptable standard and the satisfactory provision of associated services by the PPP Co.

The Department of Education and Skills has also used PPPs for the delivery of schools infrastructure. There are currently 27 operational PPP schools, 6 PPP schools under construction and two operational PPP higher education buildings as well as one in the procurement phase. 

Budget 2018 and Higher Education

After a relatively short time in the Department of Education, I am delighted to be able to announce a comprehensive major new investment in current and capital spending on 3rd Level education.

This includes a significant increase in capital investment in Higher Education over the remaining period of the Capital Plan.

The Exchequer envelope over the period 2018-2021 will be increased from €110m to €367 million.

This is in addition to the €200m worth of projects which are being selected to progress as part of a Public Private Partnership Programme for the higher education sector.

These combined investments will now put us in a position to make real and substantial progress in addressing the infrastructure deficits in the sector – expanding capacity in areas of key skill needs, driving regional development, orienting for demographic growth, and ensuring that core campus infrastructure is fit for purpose.

“The new investment will also support the development of Technological Universities across the country. It is my intention to have this Bill passed by Christmas and the first applications for designation will follow the enactment of the Technological Universities Bill.

I am delighted that we are responding to the increasing demographics and are providing an additional 2100 student places in higher education. The opportunity now exists for more students to avail of further education.

Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate of opening up our Third Level institutions for students from disadvantaged communities and we are continuing to invest in broadening access to higher education. We are providing an additional €4m for access measures in 2018. This complements the €8.5m that was provided in 2017 and which will be provided again in 2018. It also complements the funding of €450m that is provided on an annual basis by the Department for access measures including the student grant scheme.

On the reform of the National Training Fund reform it is my intention to continue constructive dialogue with employer representatives to ensure the closest possible alignment of their needs and programmes run under the Department of Education.I am also providing funding to support greater gender equality in the sector and the forthcoming work of the Gender Taskforce.”

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) demonstration

Statement by Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Wednesday 4th Oct, 2017

In response to the demonstration today by the USI, the Minister of State, with responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has said

“I understand the students concerns as a politician and the Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education around funding and quality in education.

This is a very important sector. The Government is aware we need to fund our third level institutions so we produce thoughtful, inspired graduates to enrich our growth as a society.   We have to ensure job-ready graduates to assist in our continuous growth as a country.  

The Government must look at long term sustainable funding streams to make sure that our universities and our Institutes of Technology continue to excel and be world class.  

The students and their families have my assurance that we are looking at all funding options outlined in the Cassells’ report and that this Government has not made any decisions on deferred funding or otherwise.  

I am adamant there will be no undue financial pressure placed on parents and students.   We simply do not want our students graduating burdened with the kind of debts that we have seen in other countries.   

We are awaiting the report from the Cross Party Education Committee on the Cassells’ report.  Once we have that report, I will bring it to cabinet and will make it one of my top priorities to ensure that there is a fair outcome for students and their parents”

Minister Bruton and Minister Mitchell O’Connor Announce New Fund to Increase Collaboration with Global Universities

€500,000 available through new programme to promote collaboration between Ireland and our global partners

Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D. and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today launched ‘The International Academic Mobility Programme’. The new Programme, which will be managed by the Higher Education Authority will fund activities that lead to collaborative activity between Irish universities and global institutions in high potential markets.

A fund of €500,000 has been dedicated to the programme, giving an estimated 100-150 academics from universities, Institutes of Technology and colleges here in Ireland the opportunity to travel to and collaborate with key strategic partner institutions across the world.

It is open to teaching, technical, management and administrative personnel from eligible institutions to apply to the programme. The HEA will now run an open, competitive call for proposals with a view to making awards by the end of 2017.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD commented “I’m delighted to launch this new programme which will support more strategic collaboration between Irish universities and our global partners. Working closely with international institutions is key to the success of our higher education sector, especially in light of Brexit, and the other global challenges and uncertainties we face. This programme will be in addition to supports already available under the Erasmus+ initiative that facilitate, for example, student exchange and partnerships between higher education institutions”.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor was also delighted to point out that “This new Academic Mobility Programme is the latest in a number of strategic actions driven by my Department, in conjunction with the international education sector here, to implement the strategic vision set out in the Government’s International Education Strategy.  It follows on from the implementation of a trebling of the number of Government of Ireland Scholarships for international students, the introduction of a 24-month stayback permission scheme for post-graduate international students and the provision of greater supports by Government to assist with the diversification of international education markets.  This also further supports Ireland’s higher education sector as it prepares for the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.”