Government investment in Higher Education to triple

The Department of Education announced €116 billion investment and development plan this morning

Capital investment in higher education is to be nearly trebled as part of Project Ireland 2040. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor announced today a large increase in education investment under Project Ireland 2040, a €116 billion investment and development plan.

The €11.9 billion investment will see the development of the educational system from 2018 to 2027. This plan includes almost trebling the budget for Higher Education sector with an increase from €0.8 billion to €2.2 billion.

An annual investment budget of €300 million is expected for the second half of the Project Ireland 2040, instead of the current €30 million investment in 2018. Over the entire course of the Project Ireland 2040, there will be a total investment in Higher Education of €2.8 billion.

The investment will act as the foundation for the Action Plan for Education, led by Minister Bruton. Its aim is to make Ireland’s education and training services the best in Europe by 2026.

Announcing the project today, Bruton stated: “The investment under the Project Ireland 2040 will have a transformative impact on our education system and take us further along our journey, to becoming the best in Europe.”

Speaking about the announcement, Varadkar said that “Project Ireland 2040 represents a significant shift in how we as a country plan for our future development”.

“We are taking a much longer-term view and linking investment with planning for the first time ever,” Varadkar continued.

Objectives of the plan include equipping the Higher Education system for the future influx of student body members and to support innovation and flexible teaching and learning approaches. The outcome of Project Ireland 2040 is hoped to create a more balanced population with high employment growth across all of Ireland. Attention is expected to be given to develop and to sustain the skills and research base needed to maintain Ireland’s competitiveness.

Plans for the next five years include a €112 million refurbishment and upgrade programme for STEM facilities in Dundalk IT, new engineering facilities for Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) Coonagh campus and upgrades to the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) Castlebar campus, a Future Tech building in Dublin City University (DCU) and a new Sports Science, Health and Recreation building in Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) and a Devolved Grant for minor works and equipment for all Institutes of Technology, totalling €10 million.

Trinity’s E3 building is a further capital investment being progressed by the Department of Education, which includes exchequer funding of €15 million for the €60 million development. The project is also being supported by a donation of €25 million from the Naughton Foundation.

Shauna Bannon Ward

Shauna Barron Ward is a staff writer at Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister Law student.