18 May, 2009 - Universities to get share of new €40m fund for small-scale building works - Minister O'Keeffe

The country's seven universities will for the first time get funding for small-scale building works and high-tech equipment upgrades as part of a €40 million scheme announced today by the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD.The fund, which until now only covered works in the country's Institutes of Technology sector, has been extended to the universities. Projects carried out in the past includes refurbishments, lighting, signage, security works, resurfacing of roads and footpaths, drainage and health and safety works.But the scope of works under the scheme has now been broadened to cover the upgrade of information communications technology and investment in science facilities.Announcing the move, Minister O'Keeffe said: 'Students can expect to return to more modern campuses this September as a result of the €40 million fund I'm announcing today.'The scheme had been providing funding of about €15 million each year to help the institutes of technology to undertake a range of small-scale capital works.'So I'm pleased to announce that we've almost tripled the fund, broadened its scope and extended it to include both universities and institutes of technology.'Each institution gets a basic allocation of €68,500 and then €235 for every student enrolled.'The extra amount for high-tech equipment and investment in science facilities is paid at €80 per student.'Three-quarters of the grant will be allocated over the coming weeks, with the remaining amount paid in October and November.'It's expected that most of the works will be carried out over the quiet summer months to minimise the disruption for students. 'By devolving the funding, the institutions can manage their own projects without recourse to the Department. 'However, I'd ask each institution to ensure that they get best value for money on prices for jobs in the more competitive construction market.