The government has this morning announced a €96 million investment for building projects across five higher education institutions as part of Project Ireland 2040, an ongoing government infrastructure programme intended to support a growing population.
The five higher education institutions that will receive funding under this new announcement are Maynooth University, Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo), University College Cork (UCC), National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) and University College Dublin (UCD).
The government hopes that this investment will help support the creation of up to 14,000 additional student places across these institutions.
For Maynooth University, the government has pledged up to €25m towards an estimated €57m project that is to see a 10,000 square metres new build construction, as well as the refurbishment and upgrade of existing space on campus that will enable an increase of over 3,000 student places at the university.
The government has promised up to €6.6m for IT Sligo to support the building of a new four storey extension of a central building on its main campus. IT Sligo hopes to use the space to increase its number of research students, in line with ambitions to form part of a future technological university.
UCC intends to spend an estimated €106m on a new business school, towards which the government has today committed up to €25m.
For NUI Galway, the government has pledged up to €15m towards a €39m refurbishment of the university’s library. NUI Galway’s library was built in 1973 and was intended to cater for for 3,500 students; the university now has a student population of over 18,000.
UCD intends to undertake the largest building project of the five, planning to spend €190m on 22,500 square metres of new teaching, learning and research space on their campus. The government has pledged €25m towards this project.
The government has noted that these projects “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”, stating that they “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”.
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh said this funding “will have a major positive impact on the sector’s ability to cater for significant increases in enrolments over the coming decade”.
He added: “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 of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor highlighted the belief of the government in the importance of a mixture of private and public funding for these projects, stating: “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 government has said that Project Ireland 2040 will ultimately see Exchequer investment of €2.2 billion in higher education infrastructure over the coming decade by the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).