Simon Harris promises €15 million for higher education infrastructure

Emily Clarke

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD confirmed that an additional €15 million is to be given to higher education institutions for capital works and equipment.

The funding will support higher education institutes to invest in developing their infrastructure and other campus upgrades needed to support hybrid learning (a mix of online and on campus classes).

This is in addition to funding of €25 million announced earlier this year, and brings the total Devolved Capital Grant for the 2020-21 academic year to €40 million, the highest allocation this decade.

The grant will be allocated to individual institutions based on their number of students and courses available. DCU are set to receive €885,000 of the €15 million.

“The semester has been mainly online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but we are looking to the new year and how we can give our students and staff the best chance of being back on campus as much as is safely possible,” Minister Harris said on November 2nd.

Colleges and universities will be able to develop their high-end technological skills, as well as aiding in the improvements to buildings so all have access to health and safety works, energy-related upgrades, information and communications technology (ICT) and equipment renewals.

“This additional funding will help our colleges invest in additional works to help protect students and staff as we continue to fight this pandemic. It will also support institutions in upgrading their campuses and equipment for the long term,” Minister Harris announced.

This funding is part of an ongoing investment in the higher education sector, under Project Ireland 2040.

The government have allocated €224.4 million for infrastructure development in the higher and further education sectors. This represents an increase of 53 per cent from the 2020 budget of €147 million.

This funding is complementary of other large-scale capital investments in the higher education sector that will help grow the availability of student places and transform campus infrastructure over the course of several years.

Minister Harris acknowledged the difficulties the Covid-19 pandemic has presented to students this year and hoped this funding would help give them a better college experience.

“I want to thank the higher education institutions and students for all they have done. The beginning to their academic year has been difficult to say the least but I hope this additional funding will help with planning and delivering a more positive experience in 2021 and beyond,” he said.

Of the €15 million announced , €7.5 million will be provided to the technological sector and the remaining 50 per cent to universities and other colleges.

Emily Clarke

Image credit: Scott Blake Unsplash