Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today announced that a call for applications has issued to higher education institutions in relation to the newly established Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The fund is one of a number of measures to deliver on ambitions for Ireland’s higher education sector as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.
€80 million will be made available in this call for the co-funding of significant building projects which deliver on key strategic objectives for the sector. The call has been issued by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
The fund objectives are:
Advance National Strategic Outcome 5 of the National Development Plan, i.e. 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 for higher education and Project Ireland 2040 population and employment targets;
Support new methods of teaching and learning in both on-campus and online environments.
The fund aims to leverage significant non-Exchequer sources of funding for investment in higher education, with the aim of achieving at least 50% match funding across the programme as a whole. The fund complements other significant efforts which are underway to enhance and expand higher education infrastructure, including the Higher Education PPP Programme, which is focused on institutes of technology and future technological universities; major investment in the new TU Dublin campus at Grangegorman; and an upgrade programme to enhance existing infrastructure across the sector.
Announcing the call, Minister McHugh said:
“Project Ireland 2040 recognises the critical role played by higher education institutions in driving economic and social development across Ireland’s regions. This is why capital investment in higher education is a key focus of the National Development Plan.
We must ensure that the infrastructure in place supports the sector in addressing emerging skills needs and maintaining Ireland’s competitiveness, including at regional level. It must also cater to the significant increase in demand for higher education over the coming period. Projections recently published by the Department of Education and Skills point to an increase of over 38,870 enrolments in our higher education institutions between 2017 and 2030.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:
“Projects supported under the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund will significantly advance the ambitions of Ireland’s higher education sector. Non-Exchequer investment has played, and will continue to play, an important role in the development of our campuses. We want to use the opportunity of this fund to encourage strategic investment from a range of sources, including philanthropy.
The fund will support high quality buildings that facilitate best practice in higher education teaching and learning, and that are sufficiently flexible to adapt to emerging skills needs. It complements other capital investment initiatives which are underway in the sector, including the upgrade and refurbishment of existing buildings.”
Expressions of interest must be registered with the HEA by 17 January 2019.
The deadline for receipt of applications from higher education institutions is 21 March 2019.