Budget 2019 will deliver for Higher Education.
Across current and capital spending new programmes and initiatives will make a major difference to our third level landscape.
We are announcing today a multi-annual Human Capital Initiative.
This will provide €300 million over the period 2020-2024.
It will be funded from the surplus in the National Training Fund and has been made possible by the reform of the Fund.
The Initiative will ensure that our higher education institutions can meet the skill needs of our growing economy.
It will mitigate Brexit risks, boost regional development and meet the objectives of Project Ireland 2040.
It will be a transformative development for the third level sector.
Budget 2019 also provides additional current investment of €57.4 million for new measures.
This is in addition to the separate provision that is being made for pay restoration and pension costs.
This means that current spending on higher education, excluding pay restoration and pension provision, has risen by 10% since 2016.
This funding will let us provide for approximately 3,500 additional student places.
It will also allow for the continued implementation of the reforms to the higher education funding allocation model.
It will kick-start the era of Technological Universities.
Overall, higher education current expenditure will be €1.76 billion in 2019.
On the capital side, we plan to spend €138 million in 2019 compared to €70.6 million in 2018.
We will spend €532 million over the next five years.
Project Ireland 2040 provides for a near trebling of the higher education capital budget compared to the past decade from €0.8 billion to €2.2 billion.
In summary, Budget 2019 is excellent news for higher education.
The scale of today’s investment – current and capital – is hugely significant.
I have listened carefully to many voices in the sector.
I believe we are now turning a corner in restoring our universities and institutes of technology onto a strong footing to meet the needs of our economy and society.