Minister Mitchell O’Connor leads largest Education Mission to India to date

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. Minister of State for Higher Education arrives in New Delhi, India today (Friday 23rd February 2018) to lead the ‘Education in Ireland’ trade mission to India.

The trade mission is built around Education in Ireland Fairs organised by Enterprise Ireland in 5 cities; Chennai; Bangalore; Kochi; New Delhi and Pune.

Admission staff and academics from 20 Irish Higher Education Institutions will engage with over 2,000 Indian students during the Education in Ireland Fairs, making this the largest education mission to India to date.

Speaking prior to her departure Minister Mitchell O’Connor said; “I am delighted to lead the largest Education in Ireland mission to India to date, where 20 Irish higher education institutions will accompany me to promote the Irish higher education sector. Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions are at the forefront of research and innovation. We are known for delivering ‘employment-ready’ skills so students can transition smoothly into the workplace. This has been an important driver in Ireland’s transformation into a high tech, knowledge based economy. The possibility of gaining valuable post-study work experience makes Ireland a very compelling option for Indian students”.

She continued; “This mission is part of the Department of Education and Skills’ plan to substantially increase the numbers of international students studying in our higher education institutions, by 33%, from 33,000 to 44,000 by 2020”.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor will visit the Education in Ireland Fair in New Delhi on Saturday 24th February where she will meet with Irish higher education institutions and their Indian agents as well as Indian students considering moving to Ireland to study for a third-level qualification.

In New Delhi, Minister Mitchell O’Connor will visit Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where she will witness the signing of an agreement of understanding between JNU and University of Limerick. The signing is the latest development in the relationship between the two universities which is focussed on growing research collaboration, the exchange of faculty, researchers and students and joint cultural programmes.

She will also witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Birla Institute of Technology & Science and Trinity College Dublin.

At a reception to be hosted on Friday night by the Irish Ambassador to India H.E. Brian McElduff, Minister Mitchell O’Connor will announce details of two new programmes launched by Cork Institute of Technology and NUI Galway; open the call for applications for the ‘Government of Ireland -International Education Scholarships’; and launch the ‘Ireland-India Alumni Network’.

The launch of Cork Institute of Technology’s MSc in Artificial Intelligence and the new MSc in Business & Hospitality offered at NUI Galway’s Shannon College is expected to attract a high level of interest from Indian students during the Education in Ireland fairs.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor will travel on to Mumbai where on Monday 26th February she will meet with officials of the Government of Maharashtra and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Mumbai University to discuss how to develop further collaborations between Ireland and the State of Maharashtra in the areas of international mobility of students, staff and research initiatives.

Giles O’Neill, Head of Education in Ireland at Enterprise Ireland said; “India is now the fastest growing education market for Irish higher education institutions. Latest figures from Enterprise Ireland show a 90% growth in exports from the Irish education sector to India since 2013. In 2017, Higher Education Institutions saw a rise of 25% in the level of interest from Indian students wishing to study in Ireland. Based on the positive response and levels of interest we have seen from across India on this Education in Ireland mission, we expect to see similar growth in the next academic cycle. This is as a result of the commitment and resource dedicated to India by our international offices and academics in Irish higher education institutions. Most importantly, it is down to the experience those Indian students experience whilst in Ireland – a world class education, a tremendous life experience and something that prepares them well for their own international careers”.

The 20 higher education institutions participating in the 5 Education in Ireland fairs in India are: Athlone Institute of Technology; Cork Institute of Technology; College of Computing Technology; Dublin Business School; Dublin Institute of Technology; Dublin City University; Griffith College Institute of Technology Blanchardstown; Institute of Technology Carlow; Limerick Institute of Technology; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; Maynooth University; Michael Smurfit Business School; National College of Ireland; National University of Ireland Galway; Trinity College Dublin; University College Cork; University College Dublin; University of Limerick; Waterford Institute of Technology.

Higher Education Central to Success of Project Ireland 2040

– €2.2 billion will transform sector infrastructure
– Technological Universities will be the key to regional development

I am delighted that Project Ireland 2040 recognises the vital importance of higher education to our medium and long term growth as an economy and society.

There are two priorities for higher education:
• A significant increase in the funding available to support refurbishment, maintenance and equipment renewal across the system;

• Setting up a prioritised Exchequer supported higher education building programme to:

– Build the capacity of multi-campus Technological Universities and of Institutes of Technology to deepen the talent pool for regions and to drive research and innovation;

– Generate the additional capacity necessary to support increased enrolments and address skills needs at a regional and national level, including life-long learning;

In recent months I have seen at first hand the need for investment in all our higher education institutions. The case is compelling and overdue.

In parallel I have been steering the Technological Universities Bill through the Oireachtas. The Bill’s enactment is now very close.

Technological Universities and investment in higher education in each region will have a crucial role to play in delivering the skilled and talented people that sustains enterprise clustering and new investments.

The Government’s ambition for the regions will be met by investing in making places attractive for enterprises and developing deeply rooted sectoral clusters and collaborations built around higher education.

Technological Universities will be the beating heart of the regions.

We’re going to deliver eleven major infrastructure projects around the country as part of a PPP programme for higher education at Athlone IT, IT Blanchardstown, IT Carlow, Cork IT, IADT Dun Laoghaire, GMIT, Limerick IT, Letterkenny IT, IT Tallaght, IT Tralee and Waterford IT.

I am also working with institutions to ensure that private finance will also play an important role in the delivery of infrastructure in the higher education sector.

Over the ten year period of the NDP, the 7 universities plan projects (including those awaiting sanction) with total investment of over €3 billion to be funded with a mix of own resources, borrowing, philanthropy and Exchequer grants.

Examples of projects being planned by universities include:
• UCC: new business school, student accommodation, upgrade and expansion of Tyndall Institute, new dental hospital;
• DCU: enhanced capacity in teaching, research and innovation; new student centre, new sports facilities, additional accommodation and 21st century Digital Campus;
• TCD: New business school, E3 learning foundry, student accommodation, Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus;
• NUIG: New student residences, completion of the Human Biology building and other campus upgrades;
• UL: New student centre, sports facilities, new student residences;
• NUIM: International Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation, new student residences, refurbishment of South Campus;
• UCD: New Teaching and Learning building, Science Centre Phase 3, Centre for Creative Design.

Project Ireland 2040 is an enormous step-change for higher education in Ireland.

The future is bright for our students and society.

Action Plan for Education 2018 Launch


The Action Plan for Education 2018, led by Minister Bruton, is the next step in the Government’s plan to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe by 2026.

An Taoiseach today launched the Plan in St. Audoen’s National School with Minister Bruton, Minister of State Mitchell O’Connor and Minister of State Halligan.

Major international studies have recently shown the strength of the Irish education system. Ireland’s 15-year-olds are among the best in OECD countries in reading and are above average in mathematics and science. Our primary school students are the best in Europe for reading and maths.

The Action Plan for Education 2018 builds on this success and sets out a roadmap for how we plan to support education leaders on the journey to making Ireland’s Education and Training Service the best in Europe by 2026.

Minister Bruton launched a three year plan in 2016. The 2018 plan being announced today is in accordance with his commitment to putting in place an annual process where the government commits to concrete actions and strict timelines.

Some key actions in the 2018 Action Plan:

– School Excellence Fund: Support school clusters to undertake innovative projects in areas of Digital, Disadvantage, Creativity, Gaeltacht and School Inspection under the School Excellence Fund.

– Leadership: Support schools in deploying the recent investment of 3,000 extra posts of responsibility. Improve middle management structures in schools and empower school leadership with training, mentoring and resources. A proportion of the CPD budget will be dedicated to delivering on strategic priorities such as innovation and leadership.

– Brexit: Implement Foreign Languages Strategy to significantly increase the number of students studying a foreign language at all levels. Increase Erasmus uptake. Publish strategy to attract world-leading researchers to higher level institutions in Ireland post-Brexit.

– Digital: Implement Computer Science for Leaving Certificate in 40 schools. Implement School Excellence Fund- Digital to support schools in digital innovation. Progress new maths curriculum for primary schools to include elements of coding. Continue work of Minister’s Digital Implementation group of experts.

– STEM: Formally recognize outside of school initiatives at Junior Cycle. Develop new summer courses in STEM subjects and industry placements for teachers. Deliver 20% increase in take up of students doing STEM for the Leaving Certificate and 40% increase in female participation.

– Disadvantage: Update DEIS Plan – our plan to tackle educational disadvantage. Develop a more tailored resource allocation model for DEIS schools. Address barriers to higher education.

– Parental Choice: Enact the Parent and Student Charter Bill and the School Admissions Bill. Shortly commence Reconfiguration for Diversity process to deliver step up in number of multi-denominational schools.

– Higher Education: Enact Technological Universities Bill, with the first TUs to open in September 2018. Review quality of Higher Education, including the quality of teaching. Implement new model for allocating funding to higher level institutions to better align to national priorities and incentivise lifelong learning, innovation and research. Develop a consistent digital experience for third-level students.

– Wellbeing: Recruit 10 more NEPS psychologists. Provide more guidance to schools on the use of external providers. Publish Wellbeing Policy Statement. Expand Student Support Teams. Support Wellbeing programme for Junior Cycle.

– Special Education: Develop first ever In-School Speech and Language Therapy Service. Undertake comprehensive assessment of the SNA scheme to ensure we are achieving the best outcomes for children with special educational needs.

– Critical skills: Deliver new, revised literacy and numeracy targets given the success of Irish students in meeting existing ones. Increase number of students taking higher level maths at junior cycle and senior cycle.

– Curriculum: trial new assessment methods and commence work on reviewing senior cycle programmes; Implement senior cycle Physical Education as a leaving certificate subject in 80 schools. Develop new Religion and Ethics programme for primary schools. Implement Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Music and Geography to new Junior Cycle.

– Skills: Roll out Springboard+ 2018, offering all courses to those in employment for the first time. Conduct review of career guidance. Publish Entrepreneurship Policy. Develop 25 new apprenticeships and 10 new traineeships

– Teacher supply: establish a Teacher Supply Steering Group; build on initiatives already announced and develop a policy on Teacher supply to support the availability of relevant teaching resources across the system in the short-medium and long term.

– Gaeltacht: Implement Gaeltacht Schools Policy – for which the budget this year has doubled. Issue grants and resources for schools who have opted into Gaeltacht schools scheme. Commence Schools Excellence Fund – Gaeltacht. Commence new M – Ed programme for Irish language teachers.

– Ongoing Review: every agency under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills will be reviewed to ensure they are in line with our ambition to be the best in Europe; first reviews to commence in 2018

An Taoiseach said:

“Education improves our society, boosts our children’s potential and is integral to our economic success. Our approach to education is about giving every child an equal opportunity in life, and that’s why the Government is determined to build the best education and training system in Europe by 2026.

“The Action Plan for Education 2018 builds on achievements made during 2016 and 2017, and the focus this year on excellence and innovation means that we are embedding the extensive reforms already taking place within the sector, for the benefit all learners. This year, for example, we’ll be encouraging schools to work together on innovative projects; we’ll take steps to increase the number of students studying a foreign language and we’ll introduce PE as a Leaving Cert exam subject in 80 schools.

“As a Government, we are spending more on education, increasing teacher supply and investing significantly in new schools. The Action Plan for Education will help to ensure that this investment delivers the best possible results for students at every stage of the education system.”

Minister Bruton said:
“Education is key to delivering on our ambitions as a nation. It is the engine that drives economic growth. It is a powerful tool in breaking down cycles of disadvantage and ensuring every person is given the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.

“I’ve set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Thanks to the leadership and dedication of our education and training providers, this is a realistic goal. International studies have recently shown how far along this journey we already are. This Plan is our roadmap for taking us the rest of the way.

“The expectations from our education and training service are changing. The challenge in the years ahead will be to invest and transform our education system so that it broadens career paths, builds momentum around key curricular reforms, continues to break down cycles of disadvantage and embeds regional development.

“Since I’ve been Minister, the education budget has grown by €1billion. This significant investment shows the importance this Government places on Education. We are hiring more teachers and investing more to support learners with special education needs than ever before. We are seeing higher retention rates, exceptional outcomes in literacy and numeracy and better results in ensuring opportunities for those who come at education at a disadvantage. All of these investments and results show that we are on a journey to becoming the best education and training service in Europe”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

“The focus of this year’s Action Plan on excellence and innovation is very welcome. Today’s launch comes when we have a new Systems Performance Framework and new funding arrangements in place for the Higher Education sector. These will see more funding for STEM courses, the introduction of an Innovation Fund and a performance fund to reward institutions who excel in particular areas, as well as new funding streams for research and incentivised life-long, part-time and flexible learning opportunities.

“Linked to these changes is the progress through the Oireachtas of the Technological Universities Bill, which recently moved a step closer to enactment. Technological Universities will provide an opportunity to drive regional development and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community. They will have a significant impact and influence regionally, nationally and internationally.

“All of these changes fit with the overall focus on excellence and innovation across the education and training sector as a whole, and, as Minister of State for Higher Education, I am delighted to see how Higher Education will contribute to that during 2018.”

Minister Halligan said:

“Delivering a coherent national response to skills needs is vital as we build on and sustain our economic recovery. Some of the measures we’ll be taking to do this in 2018 include continuing to strengthen the apprenticeship and traineeship systems, supporting the development of an Upskilling Pathways Plan, implementing a strategy to attract world-leading researchers to Ireland in the context of Brexit, increasing the enrolment of postgraduate researchers and growing the number of programmes to support postdoctoral researchers, in partnership with enterprise.

“By equipping learners with the right skills and fostering strong partnerships between employers, higher education and further education and training providers, we will ensure Ireland continues to be an attractive place for international investment.”

What Being the Best in Europe Means:

• Delivering a learning experience to highest international standards

• Harnessing education to break down barriers for groups at risk of exclusion and setting the benchmark for social inclusion

• Equipping learners of all ages and capacities to participate and succeed in a changing world

• Leading in innovation and a broad range of endeavours, scientific, cultural, enterprise and public service

• Fostering strong relationships between enterprise and education and building strong bridges with the wider community

Article from The Irish Times: Mitchell O’Connor Pledges Support to Clonkeen College Board

“Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor has voiced her support for the Clonkeen College board of management in its dispute with the school patron over the sale of sports playing fields.

Speaking to a packed parents association public meeting on Monday night, Ms Mitchell O’Connor said she would work “tirelessly” to ensure the board of management and school community got a fair hearing at Government level and to protect the interests of current and future pupils at the south Dublin boy’s school. read more…


Speech in Dáil Éireann on Clonkeen College – Topical Issues Thursday 01 February 2018

I am a neighbour to Clonkeen College. My home is a few hundred metres away. My neighbours’ children are pupils in the school and many former pupils of mine have been educated there.

Clonkeen College is an outstanding school with an excellent reputation. Offering a comprehensive and holistic education to all its students, including a wide range of sports, including football.

I also want to draw attention to the Special Needs Unit in Clonkeen College. This unit serves children accessing a Special Education which, I understand, needs to be delivered in a caring, special environment.

I supported this Special Needs Unit in my time as Principal of the Harold School, and indeed have visited it. And I have seen, first-hand, the great work that is carried out within this Special Needs Unit.

I want to say that I know first-hand how great this school has been managed and also its competent Board of Management.

The Department, and indeed the Taxpayer, as is well known, has invested over €10 million in its development and enhancement in recent years.

I want to put on the record of this House that I have worked tirelessly since last summer to facilitate a resolution to this issue.

I arranged a meeting between the Minister for Education and Skills, and Principal, and members of staff, and the Board, and the Department, to which I invited Deputy Boyd Barrett and other Elected Representatives.

I have met subsequently with the school principal, Board of Management, individual parents, and pupils, and stakeholders, on numerous occasions.

I have communicated with stakeholders and also with the School Principal, often on a bi-weekly basis, and indeed in some cases on a daily basis.

I understand the statutory role of the Minister for Education now in this process.

However, speaking for myself, as an Elected Member for Dun Laoghaire, and as a former school Principal in the area that has spent 31 years of my career educating children, I still believe that talks between both sides is the best route forward in this process.

As a local TD, I am available to do whatever I can to bring both sides back to the table. Thank you.



A Boil Water Notice has been put in place as a precautionary measure following a mechanical failure at Vartry Water Treatment Plant

29th Jan 2018 – Following advice from the Health Service Executive, Irish Water and Wicklow County Council have issued a Boil Water Notice for the areas supplied by the Vartry Water Treatment Plant.

The following areas in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown are included: Corke Abbey, Woodbrook Glen, Old Connaught Avenue, Thornhill Road, Ballyman Road, Ferndale Road from its junction with Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, The Dublin Road from the junction of Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, and all areas off these roads.

The Boil Water Notice has been put in place as a precautionary measure to protect approximately 65,000 people served by this supply following the mechanical failure of the chlorine booster at the plant. All water treatment at the plant must have adequate chlorine levels added to the water to make it safe to drink.

Irish Water will liaise with the HSE with a view to having the Boil Water Notice removed as soon as possible. Irish Water are carrying out chlorine dosing on the supply today and have put in place a water sampling programme to test the chlorine levels in the impacted areas.

In the meantime, all customers of this supply are advised to boil water before use until further notice.

Irish Water apologises for the inconvenience caused by the imposition of the boil water notice. We will continue to work closely with Wicklow County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Dublin City Council who run the plant on behalf of Irish Water and the HSE to monitor the supply and lift the notice as quickly as possible.

Irish Water was recently granted planning permission to upgrade the Vartry Water Treatment Plant which will restore the plant and ensure it meets all drinking water regulations and safeguards public health. The contract to construct the upgraded water treatment plant is due be awarded at the end of 2018 and construction will take two years to complete. The existing water treatment plant will then be decommissioned.

For more information and additional advice, please call our 24-hour customer care line at 1850 278 278.

Water must be boiled for:

Drinks made with water
Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
Brushing of teeth
Making of ice – discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads)

Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling

Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink

Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water

Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. If bottled water is used for the preparation of infant feeds it should be boiled once and cooled. If you are using bottled water for preparing baby food, be aware that some natural mineral water may have high sodium content. The legal limit for sodium in drinking water is 200mg per litre. Check the label on the bottled water to make sure the sodium or `Na’ is not greater than 200mg per litre. If it is, then it is advisable to use a different type of bottled water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible. It is important to keep babies hydrated.

Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor successfully steers the Technological Universities’ Bill through the Dáil

The Technological Universities Bill has now completed all stages in the Dáil and moves a step closer to enactment.

The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. has secured the passage of the Technological Universities Bill through the Dáil last night.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said, “Today marks a significant milestone in progressing this vital piece of legislation.   The Technological Universities Bill is a high priority for Government so I’m delighted to have steered the Bill successfully through the Dáil. I look forward to discussing the Bill with Senators in the coming weeks.

The legislation when enacted will underpin the development of a new type of higher education institution, building on the strengths and mission of institutes of technology to develop world class technological universities”.

She went on to say “The creation of technological universities provides the opportunity to drive regional development and provide more opportunities for individuals, enterprise and the community.   These institutions will have significant impact and influence regionally, nationally and internationally.”

The Bill is now scheduled for the next stage of the legislative process in the Seanad early next week.


Minister Mitchell O’Connor publishes Report on living conditions of College Students

Most college students feel like they ‘fit in’.

With 53% planning on continuing to study in some form after graduating.

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today published the Eurostudent VI study, the sixth report of its kind into how students experience university life, while visiting GMIT Mayo campus Castlebar.

Over 20,000 students attending higher education institutions were surveyed as part of the report. Overall the report found:

• High levels of overall student satisfaction with the quality of teaching the timetabling of studies and the facilities of the institution.

• Furthermore, students appear to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them from their institution.

• Students also report high levels of ‘fitting into’ higher education and appear to have few doubts that higher education was the right choice for them. This is further demonstrated by most students reporting that they would recommend their choice of programme to other students.

If we are to have the best education system in Europe by 2026, we must ensure our institutions are responding to the experience of those that use them. Reports such as these give us an invaluable insight and will contribute to future policy making.

Publishing the report, Minister Mitchell O Connor said “having access to high quality data, and hearing more from students on their experience of higher education is critical to inform sound policy decisions to ensure we are doing the right things for our student cohort. This report gives us a student perspective or ‘voice’ which is of critical importance.”

In announcing the publication of the report, Minister Mitchell O’Connor commented:

“This represents a very useful study into the social dimension of student life, and it will inform what measures we can take to ensure student success, which has so many dependencies. A priority for me as Minister of State for Higher Education, is to provide target groups outlined in the National Plan for Equity of Access 2015-2019 with more opportunities to go to college and have a world class positive student experience while there.

I want to commend the efforts of the Higher Education Authority and Insight Statistical Consulting for the attention to detail as evident in this report. I wish to thank the higher education institutions for their co-operation in facilitating the online survey and especially the students who took time to complete the survey. It has become increasingly accepted that the student perspective or ‘voice’ is critical to inform sound policy decisions in the higher education field.

The findings presented in this report will be a valuable resource for all higher education stakeholders.”


This report, which presents the findings of the sixth Eurostudent survey of over 20,000 higher education students in Ireland, provides a wealth of internationally comparable demographic, economic and social data. This data provides insights into the quality of life of the increasingly diverse student population in Irish higher education.

Eurostudent is a network of researchers and data collectors, representative of national ministries and other stakeholders who have joined forces to examine the social and economic conditions of student life in higher education systems in Europe.

The main aim of the Eurostudent project is to collate comparable data from 26 countries on the social dimension of European higher education. Eurostudent is a network of researchers and data collectors, representative of national ministries and other stakeholders who have joined forces to examine the social and economic conditions of student life in higher education systems in Europe.

The Irish study is overseen by the HEA on behalf of the Department and was undertaken by Insight Consultants. This publication will include information collated from higher education institutes on the social dimension of higher education in Ireland as provided by a survey completed by students.

It focuses on the socio-economic background and on the living conditions of students. It also investigates other interesting aspects of student life such as international mobility and employment during term-time.

This report provides results from over 20,000 students attending higher education institutions in Ireland and provides insightful information relating to the demographic profile of students, course characteristic, entry routes, accommodation, employment and other relevant issues on student life. The information collated helps us to comprehend more succinctly the quality of life of the increasingly diverse student population in Irish higher education and how this influences their learning experience.

The findings cover areas such as demographics, course characteristics, disability, college entry route, income and expenditure, accommodation, employment and student.

Further details on the report can be obtained from the Higher Education Authority.

Link to the report can be found here –

Minister Mitchell O’Connor announces ring fenced funding for the Castlebar campus of GMIT

The Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, today 15th December 2017 published the report of the Working Group on the future of the Castlebar campus of GMIT.

The Working Group was established by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., and the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, in March 2017. The objective of the Working group was to formulate a plan for the sustainable future of the GMIT Mayo Campus in Castlebar.

The Working Group was chaired by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and comprised representatives from GMIT, the Department of Education and Skills, and important local stakeholders such as Mayo County Council and local business interests.

The report provides a wide-ranging assessment of the context within which the Campus is currently operating, and outlines a proposed vision for the Mayo Campus, as well as a strategic and comprehensive plan to address the financial and sustainability issues which have been experienced by the GMIT Mayo Campus in recent years.

In publishing the report, Minister Mitchell O’Connor pointed to some of the measures that would be implemented by her Department to support a sustainable future for the GMIT Mayo Campus:

“I welcome the report of the Working Group. It provides a roadmap for the sustainable future of GMIT in Castlebar. My Department will be working with the HEA and GMIT to ensure that the recommendations are implemented as quickly as possible. I am pleased to announce today that I will be providing ring fenced funding of €750,000 for the Castlebar campus for each of the next five years while the plan is being implemented. I will also be providing capital funding for the replacement of the roof of the GMIT campus that is currently in need of repair. These, along with the implementation of the other recommendations by GMIT, will ensure that the future of the GMIT Castlebar campus is secured”.

Other key recommendations to be progressed by GMIT will be the recruitment of a permanent head of campus for Castlebar, the establishment of a sub-committee of the GMIT governing body to oversee the development of the Mayo campus, and the appointment of an interim independent external facilitator to work with the executive board, campus and other stakeholders to oversee the transition to the new structural and operational arrangements.

The Working Group’s recommendations will be implemented over the next five years, over the period 2018-2022, with a review of progress at the end of year 2. There will also be formal progress reports to be submitted to the GMIT Governing Body and the HEA every four months.

Minister Mitchell O’ Connor thanked those who had contributed to the Working Group report:

“I would like to thank the members of the Working Group for their participation, as well as those stakeholders who contributed to the process. This includes the Governing Body and management team of GMIT, staff and students in GMIT, and local stakeholders. I hope that we can continue to work together in implementing the recommendations in the Working Group report. The clear message from the publication of the Working Group report today is that the Castlebar campus is open for business and that it will continue to play a vital role in the years ahead in providing educational and training opportunities in the Galway Mayo region and contributing to local and regional economic growth”.


GMIT Working Group

The GMIT Working Group was chaired by the HEA and comprised representatives of GMIT, the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA. The brief of the working group was to formulate a plan towards a sustainable future and growth options for GMIT Mayo Campus, Castlebar.

The Working Group engaged extensively with the local community and business interests, staff and students of GMIT, the executive and board of GMIT, local public representatives, and other stakeholders. This included a number of meetings and open fora.

To inform the work of the Group, a base of information was gathered including an analysis of labour market needs in the region, student supply and demand, the role of the further education sector and the impact of the campus on the local and regional economy. The views of external stakeholders were sought in relation to these matters and 23 submissions were received and considered by the Working Group. These views and submissions were considered by the Working Group and have fed into its overall deliberations, resulting in the compilation of the final report.

Key recommendations of the Working Group Report:

• The appointment of a dedicated permanent head of Mayo campus at vice-president to lead the practical delivery of this plan. (Recommendation 1)
• Establishment of a sub-committee of the GMIT governing body to oversee the development of the Mayo campus.
• Greater Mayo representation on the governing body should be facilitated where possible and within relevant policy and legislative frameworks
• Appointment of an interim independent external facilitator to work with the executive board, campus and other stakeholders to oversee the transition to the new structural and operational arrangements
• New programme development to be aligned with institute and campus strategies, the regional skills audit and market research including engagement with regional employers and representative groups
• The potential for development of new apprenticeship proposals (e.g. digital media, sales skills) should be investigated
• International and postgraduate offerings to be further developed to diversify the campus income base
• A mapping exercise should be undertaken with further education to build and communicate new progression pathways
• The Mayo Campus should continue its development as a centre of excellence for lifelong learning within GMIT
• A distinct marketing plan should be developed & implemented supported by a new dedicated marketing resource , with a major re-launch campaign for 2018/19
• Part of the roof to be replaced as soon as possible
• The development of a campus enterprise development strategy
• GMIT should seek designation of the campus as eligible for additional multi-campus funding when the new HEA funding model is established
• GMIT should seek time bound ring-fenced funding to allow the plan to be fully implemented and ensure future campus sustainability
• GMIT should engage with the DES on seeking approval to participate in a voluntary redundancy scheme