Almost €100 million investment under Project Ireland 2040 for five major building projects in higher education institutions

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today announced almost €100 million is to be invested by the Government in major building projects at five higher education institutions.

As part of ongoing investment in the sector through Project Ireland 2040, the funding has been approved in principle to help support up to 14,000 new places for students in higher education institutions.

The successful projects being backed through the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) are:

• €25m Maynooth University, Technology Society & Innovation Building.
• €6.6m IT Sligo, Extension to Central Campus Project.
• €25m UCC, Cork University Business School (CUBS) Project.
• €15m NUI Galway, Learning Commons Project.
• €25m UCD, Future Campus Project.

Minister McHugh has approved in principle capital investments of €96.6m in these projects as part of Project Ireland 2040 to support the delivery of up to 14,000 additional student places across the sector.

Project Ireland 2040 will ultimately see Exchequer investment of €2.2 billion in our higher education infrastructure over the coming decade by the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Minister McHugh said the award of such significant levels of funding would significantly enhance the capacity of the sector in advancing Ireland’s national and regional ambitions.

“The funding announced today facilitates a total investment of more than half a billion euro in higher education infrastructure over the coming five years,” Minister McHugh said.

“This will have a major positive impact on the sector’s ability to cater for significant increases in enrolments over the coming decade. We are planning and investing for the future and with that we are driving choice and increasing options for students around the country.

“Ambition is at the heart of these plans. These projects and new buildings will have an important regional and national impact but they will also enhance the competitiveness of Ireland’s higher education system on the international stage.”

Minister McHugh noted that a key objective of the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund was to encourage non-Exchequer investment in the sector, with the five projects in this round also expected to leverage more than €400m in non-Exchequer co-funding.

Minister McHugh added: “I am particularly pleased at the projected level of non-Exchequer investment alongside the Government investment. This collaborative approach is very much in the spirit of Project Ireland 2040, which recognises the importance of private finance in the delivery of infrastructure in the sector.”

Between 2017 and 2030, the number of full-time students enrolled in higher education is projected to increase by more than 38,000 to a total of more than 222,000.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Today’s significant announcement complements other capital investments in the sector, including the Higher Education Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme and the development of the TU Dublin City Campus at Grangegorman.

“Private finance played a critical role in the development of our university campuses during a time of particular difficulty for the public finances. This co-funding approach responds to calls from the sector for a greater level of State support while recognising the continued importance of leveraging other sources of investment.

“The projects that have been approved in principle for funding will significantly advance the objectives of Project Ireland 2040, including in underpinning the talent pipeline that is essential to Ireland’s growth as an economy and society, and in supporting regional objectives. The buildings themselves will be highly innovative and sustainable, future-proofed to support the most up-to-date approaches to teaching and learning, and designed to facilitate the multi-disciplinary engagement that is so critical to tackling the challenges of today and of the future.”

The five projects were selected following a detailed application and assessment process and based on the capacity of the projects to deliver on the objectives of the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund.

The core objectives of the fund are as follows:
• Contribute to National Strategic Outcome 5 under Project Ireland 2040; A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, in particular with regard to development of the talent pipeline necessary to drive economic growth;
• Provide for additional student places consistent with current enrolment projections and Project Ireland 2040 population and employment targets;
• Support new methods of teaching and learning in both on-campus and online environments; and
• Leverage non-Exchequer sources of funding to advance investment in the sector

The projects selected are at different stages of development and, in most cases, significant planning and design work is still required to bring the projects to tender stage.

The projects will be subject to ongoing economic and financial appraisal, and a further approval will be required by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) before a project proceeds to tender.

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