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NEWS RELEASE
Monday
16th October 2017
THEA welcomes €200m announcement of investment in Institutes of Technology

THEA welcomes €200m announcement of investment in Institutes of Technology

The Chief Executive of the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), Dr Joseph Ryan, welcomed the announcement today (16 October) of a signal major capital investment in higher education.  The announcement, made jointly by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, promises funding for 11 major capital investment projects which will deliver brand new state of the art facilities to Institutes of Technology across the country.

“We are delighted to acknowledge this, the first major capital investment in the technological sector in ten years,” stated Dr Ryan. “ The sector has consistently out-performed itself despite core funding per student dropping by 22% in the seven-year period to 2015. Government has committed to address the current spending challenge and that work is underway; this complementary injection of capital funding into our Institutes of Technology will greatly enhance the student experience and will support the delivery of highest class education and training throughout the technological sector. This technological sector has been central to regional and national economic development in ensuring an ongoing stream of employment-ready graduates, and in supporting innovation and product development through impact-focused research. It is work that is catalytic for each region and community and it is key to delivering on the current suite of Government policy that is designed to sustain our economic recovery.  Today's announcement supports and will enhance the valued relationship that exists between the Institutes of Technology and local enterprise; it supports Government policy on regional development and Integration with the identified needs of local industry; and is timely as we transition towards the introduction of Technological Universities.”

“This is a highly significant and welcome development that follows from a comprehensive and rigorous prioritisation process conducted by the Department of Education and Skills in recent months. The 200mn investment announced today will provide advanced facilities across the regions to support the ongoing expansion of higher education opportunities for a rapidly growing population, further enhancing research and innovation across key discipline areas, building and strengthening the future workforce in key sectors, attracting and developing intellectual talent and inward investment, and driving economic and social development within the regions and State. This investment will provide further momentum for the various consortia working towards the development of new internationally recognised Irish Technological Universities.  We thank the Ministers for this investment in the Technological Sector and we look forward to working with the HEA, the NDFA and the Department of Education and Skills to bring the new facilities onto our campuses as soon as possible.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. stated: “I have set the ambition to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade. State of the art facilities are key to realizing this ambition. These projects will be delivered in every province, in locations extending from Letterkenny to Waterford, and from Galway to Dublin. The delivery of these projects, together with the additional €257m over three years capital funding which we secured last week in the Budget, mark a turning point for State investment in the higher education sector. They demonstrate the commitment of the Government to supporting the sector in catering for demographic growth, responding to skills needs in the economy and improving the campus environment for students and staff.”

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor T.D. Stated “Institutes of Technology have been disproportionately affected by the fall-off in capital investment in higher education over the past decade. And yet they have still shown a level of flexibility and innovation that rivals any other sector. In recent times the infrastructure hasn’t evolved or improved quickly enough to match their dynamism. We’re starting the process of changing that today. Many of our Institutes are working towards the attainment of Technological University status and the new infrastructure will support them in that aim. The move towards Technological Universities is a game changer for the sector. It’s a significant, welcome structural change. And is an example of the kind of vision and big thinking we need to progress our society.”

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For further information please contact:

Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO THEA: (086) 606 7313; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Róisín O'Connell, Head of Communications (Acting) THEA: (087) 9193333 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

NOTE TO EDITORS:

The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) is the representative body for Ireland's 14 Institutes of Technology, which are recognised as a major success story in Irish education.  The Institutes of Technology operate a unique system in that they allow students to progress from two year (higher certificate programmes) through primary degree to Masters and PhD.

Institutes of Technology awards are integrated with the highest award levels of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications which in turn is aligned to the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area.  They are to the forefront in ensuring that Ireland’s modern economy continues to have the requisite array of leading-edge skills demanded by our knowledge-based industries.

The Institutes provide programmes that reflect current and emerging knowledge and practices and promote self-management, critical analysis, decision making and entrepreneurship.  They foster graduates ready to undertake roles, responsibilities and challenges in business, industry, the professions, public services and society.

A full list of projects to be included in the PPP Programme is as follows:

Athlone Institute of Technology:   STEM Building

Cork Institute of Technology:  Learning Resource Centre

Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire:  Digital Media Building

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology:   STEM Building

IT Blanchardstown:   Phase 2 Teaching Block

IT Carlow:   Science Building

IT Tallaght:   Phase 2 Campus Development

IT Tralee:   STEM Building, North Campus

Letterkenny Institute of Technology:   Library, IT and Teaching Building

Limerick Institute of Technology:   Applied Science and IT Building

Waterford Institute of Technology:   Engineering, Computing and General Teaching Building

The 11 projects will be procured on behalf of the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Skills by the National Development Finance Agency. 

While the intended location and skills focus of projects today is being announced today, it should be noted that all proposals will be the subject of ongoing technical appraisal and economic analysis to ensure value for money is achieved.  This process will inform the final scale and scope of each project, which will be approved and announced prior to procurement.

The projects have been selected for inclusion in the Programme following a detailed assessment undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which took account of factors such as projected enrolments, capacity to deliver on skills requirements, the potential to contribute to regional development, and an economic analysis of the costs and benefits. The relevant circumstances of each institution and the objective of achieving maximum impact from the limited capital envelope were also key considerations.

In the next stage of the process, the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) will procure technical advisers on behalf of the Department to bring the projects through planning and to procurement stage. It should be noted that value for money aspects will continue to be monitored as projects are progressed, including updating economic appraisals where necessary, and undergoing the value for money tests that form part of PPP assessment. A project may be removed from the Programme if value for money requirements are not met.

The total floor area in new infrastructure to be delivered through the PPP programme will be over 70,000m2.  The floor area of each building will be confirmed as part of the detailed technical design process, review of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBAs), and engagement with each Institute of Technology. Costs for each building will not be announced as is the norm in such a PPP procurement process. The total capital envelope for the programme amounts to approximately €200 million ex VAT. 

The projects will facilitate an additional 8,000 new student places. These will be created primarily through the provision of new accommodation in the PPP buildings. However, in many cases, the provision of these buildings will free up space in existing buildings and allow for new student places there. It should also be noted that the new PPP buildings will also provide upgraded accommodation for existing students.