16 October, 2017 - Minister Bruton and Minister Mitchell O’Connor Announce €200m investment in New Buildings for Institutes of Technology

Strong Focus on STEM, including ICT, engineering and life sciences to Drive Regional Development

11 new Higher Education buildings to provide over 8,000 new student places

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., today announced the projects that it is proposed to include in the Department of Education and Skills’ latest Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme.   

Today’s announcement fulfils a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade.

The 11 projects, which are located all around the country, will help drive regional development and meet many of the skills needs that have been identified by the National Skills Council and the nine regional skills fora, which were established earlier this year by Minister Bruton.

These state of the art 11 projects will lead to a step change in STEM-related skills, including ICT, engineering and life sciences across the country. These new facilities will help drive regional development and will be transformative for the individual institutions and the regions they serve. 

This PPP Programme is being rolled-out alongside €367 million in funding from the Department of Education and Skills for investment in higher education over the period 2018-2021. Minister Bruton and Minister Mitchell O’Connor secured €257 million of this additional funding in the Budget last week following the mid-term review of the Capital Plan.

While the intended location and skills focus of projects today are 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

Minister Bruton 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 and I am delighted to be here today with Minister Mitchell O’Connor to announce this new programme of investment.

Today, we are announcing the eleven major infrastructure projects to be delivered around the country as part of a €200 million PPP Programme for the higher education sector. 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.

 The locality will also benefit from the new facilities being provided as many HEIs make their grounds and buildings available to the community. It is also expected to provide an important boost to the relevant local economies and to the construction industry, creating approximately 1,500 construction-related jobs during the construction phase alone.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

"I am delighted that the PPP programme we are announcing today will provide eleven new state of the art buildings and that it will have such a strong focus on supporting regional development. 

The projects announced today will be focused on the Institute of Technology sector. The sector that is key to our dual aims of increasing access to education and ensuring we are producing graduates that are fit for purpose in a changing economy.

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. Today’s investment will help cater for new approaches that promote innovation and make use of the latest technologies. 

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.

Technological Universities will provide the opportunity to drive regional development, provide more opportunities for students and create a step change in the impact and influence of these institutions regionally, nationally and internationally. My intention is to progress the legislation as quickly as possible. Because it’s essential that we make rapid progress on this issue.

The projects announced today will address a diversity of skills areas. A majority of new student places will be generated in critical STEM areas but we are also responding to wider skills needs in the economy, with support for digital media and design provision, culinary arts, and teaching and collaborative work space that is purpose-built for the teaching and learning needs of today.  The buildings will also allow Institutions to expand their flexible and blended learning provision, with scope for online learning delivery.”

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

Higher   Education Institute

Project

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

Notes for Editors:

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.

The following is a summary description of each of the eleven projects being announced today:

Athlone Institute of Technology

Athlone Institute of Technology is aiming to develop a new STEM facility which will include science labs, lecture theatres, classrooms and other facilities.

Institute of Technology Blanchardstown

As part of its campus Masterplan, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown is aiming to expand its general teaching facilities to support growth in student numbers across a range of disciplines.

Institute of Technology Carlow

The project in Institute of Technology Carlow would provide additional space for STEM provision, in particular science.

Cork Institute of Technology

The proposed project is the construction of a Learning Resource Centre which would accommodate learning, study, exhibition, engagement and entrepreneurial space. It would allow CIT to increase capacity across STEM, business and humanities subjects.

Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire

The proposed project is the construction of a Digital Media Building which will house the animation and visual design communications labs, with capacity also for growth in courses in creative computing, entrepreneurship and creative technologies.

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

GMIT has proposed the construction of a new STEM building, which would include labs, multi-purpose rooms, lab support rooms, seminar rooms and classrooms.

Limerick Institute of Technology

The proposed project is the construction of a new Applied Science & IT building on the LIT Moylish campus. The building would accommodate science labs, flat teaching facilities, computer labs, tutorial rooms, breakout and meeting spaces. 

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

The project proposed is the construction of a Library and General Education Building which will accommodate a learning resource centre, IT and innovation laboratories, online learning delivery rooms and classrooms.

Institute of Technology Tallaght

The project proposed by IT Tallaght includes a technical development centre (i.e. practice based learning facilities for engineering and science courses); facilities for the culinary arts; and new classrooms and computer labs.

Institute of Technology Tralee

The proposed project is the construction of a building to accommodate the STEM School of IT Tralee. The STEM building would be located at the Institute’s north Campus at Dromtacker.

Waterford Institute of Technology

The project would consist of the construction of a new Engineering, Computing and General Teaching Building at WIT’s Cork Road Campus.  It would provide for the consolidation of a number of faculties in one space and generate efficiencies in that respect.

Note on Public Private Partnerships

A Public Private Partnership or a PPP is a contract between a public sector contracting authority and a private sector company (PPP Co.) for the provision of public works and/or services. Typically the State procures buildings under the form of an “availability based” PPP contract whereby the PPP Co. is responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of public buildings and facilities on land provided by the State.

In exchange for this, the State pays a “monthly availability payment”. The duration of the services phase of a PPP contract (and monthly availability payment) is typically 25 years. The State payment of the monthly availability payment is dependent on the building and facilities being maintained to an acceptable standard and the satisfactory provision of associated services by the PPP Co.

The Department of Education and Skills has also used PPPs for the delivery of schools infrastructure.  There are currently 27 operational PPP schools, 6 PPP schools under construction and two operational PPP higher education buildings as well as one in the procurement phase.

ENDS

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