14 September, 2018 - Taoiseach & Ministers Announce €11.9 billion Investment in Education as part of Project Ireland 2040

70% increase in school building budget  

Capital investment in Higher Education to be almost trebled 

First dedicated capital budget for Further Education and Training 

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D., the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and the Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D today (Friday the 14th of September) announced a major package of investment in education under Project Ireland 2040, the government’s €116 billion investment and development plan for the next decade. 

This major investment will underpin the implementation of the Action Plan for Education, led by Minister Bruton, which is the government’s plan to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. 

Education is central to achieving the Government’s overall objectives under Project Ireland 2040- a strong, future-proofed economy, balanced across the regions and a fair society. Education is the engine behind strong national and regional development, delivering the future skill needs of our economy. It is also essential to breaking down barriers and enabling people to fulfil their full potential. 

Project Ireland 2040 provides for a €11.9 billion investment in the education and training sector over the period 2018 to 2027. This will deliver:

  • A 70% increase in schools capital funding compared to the past decade (€4.9 billion to €8.4 billion). Investment will rise to €1 billion in 2027, compared to €540 million investment in 2018.
  • A close to trebling of the Higher Education sector capital budget compared to the past decade (€0.8 billion to €2.2 billion). This will result in an annual average investment of circa. €300 million in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period compared to the €30 million investment in 2018.
  • A new dedicated capital budget line for the Further Education and Training sector of €300 million for the 10 year Project Ireland 2040 period. 

Announcing this further investment under the Project Ireland 2040, an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. said, 

“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. In the education sector, that means we’re significantly increasing the amount we invest in our schools, colleges and universities. For example, we’ll be boosting the school building budget by 70% over the next ten years and trebling our investment in higher education. 

“I am particularly pleased that we’ll be investing in PE halls – modernising old ones and building new ones – to ensure all post primary students can use state of the art PE facilities. This will be especially important as we phase in PE as a Leaving Cert exam subject. Education doesn’t just drive economic success, it’s also crucial to giving everyone the opportunity to fulfil their full potential, in all parts of the country. This ambitious and unprecedented level of investment – almost €12 billion – in our education sector will ensure our this generation of children and the next get the best possible start in life” 

Announcing this major investment in education, Minister Bruton said, 

“Education is central to, and indeed enables our overall objectives under Project Ireland 2040. Education is critical to planning for a strong, future-proofed economy, balanced across the regions and a fair society, removing barriers to opportunity. 

“This €11.9billion investment reflects the importance this government puts on education and will enable our ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. We are investing in modern, state of the art facilities in our schools, higher and further education institutions, which are energy efficient and fit for purpose for the curricular reforms we are making. We are giving schools, higher and further education institutions more certainty over the grants they receive and better lead in times, making it easier to plan. 

“Education is the engine behind strong regional growth, which is pivotal rebalancing growth as envisioned by the Project Ireland 2040. It is central to this government’s central objective, which is to provide for a strong economy and a fair society. 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.” 

Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said, 

“Project Ireland 2040 represents a step change for State capital investment in higher education – close to a tripling in funding over the next decade when compared to the past decade.

This will support the sector in realising its potential as a driver of the Project 2040 objectives with regard to more balanced population and employment growth across Ireland’s regions. It will also help address current infrastructure deficits and cater for the projected 20% increase in the higher education student population between now and 2029.” 

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D said, 

“I am pleased that Project Ireland 2040 includes a €300m capital envelope for Further Education and Training over the course of the 10 year period 2018-2027. With €65m already agreed for 2018-21, this represents an additional €235m over the remaining period of Plan. The additional capital supports will be prioritised to address issues with the condition of the existing capital stock, to roll out critical new apprenticeship syllabi and courses and to consolidate the provision of further education and training in modern, fit-for-purpose facilities that enable the delivery of high quality integrated programmes.” 

Overall vision for schools sector

Our ambition is to ensure that our children are being educated in modern, state of the art facilities that are fit for purpose and meet the needs of the reforms we are making to the curriculum that is being taught. We also want to give schools more certainty over the minor works and summer works grants they receive and better lead in times to make it easier for school communities to plan. 

We will be investing €8.4 billion in school buildings over the lifetime of Project Ireland 2040. 

We are:

  • Increasing the school building budget by 70%.  This will be targeted at delivering on the twin objectives of catering for the continued increase in demographics and a greater focus on refurbishment and upgrade of existing school stock. The government remain committed to delivering on existing projects on the school building programme as soon as possible.    
  • Providing confirmation that, starting this year, all primary schools will receive the €29 million minor works grant in either December or early January of each school year. We are committing to putting in place a similar grant scheme at post-primary level over the lifetime of the Project Ireland 2040.
  • Committing to a Summer Works Scheme every year with schools being given better lead in periods for planning and delivering their projects. The Summer Works Scheme in 2019 will focus on the remaining categories of projects from the previous scheme.   A new Summer Works Scheme will open for applications in early 2019 for projects to be delivered from Summer 2020 onwards. This new scheme will also facilitate a school laboratory modernisation programme.
  • Taking an integrated approach with the Prefab Replacement Scheme through the replacement of prefabs as part of large-scale projects or as part of new projects approved under the Additional Accommodation Scheme.  Construction work on these projects in 2018 and 2019 will facilitate the replacement of over 600 prefabs.    
  • The commencement and progression of a deep energy retrofit of primary and post-primary schools built prior to 2008 with a view to optimum energy use and conservation in school buildings. A pilot for such works has taken place already, in conjunction with SEAI, seeing participating schools benefitting from increased comfort levels and reduced energy bills. The next phase of the pilot scheme is being undertaken this year and in 2019. Both pilots will inform a rolling national programme of works to begin in earnest in 2022. 

Project Ireland 2040 provides the investment necessary to implement the commitments in the Action Plan for Education to reform and modernise the school curriculum:  

  • Committing to a PE Hall build and modernisation programme, starting in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period, that ensures that students in all post-primary schools have access to state of the art facilities to support PE provision, particularly also in the context of the roll-out of P.E. as a leaving certificate subject.
  • The next phase of the summer works scheme will facilitate a school laboratory modernisation programme, with schools being able to make applications in 2019
  • We will invest €420 million in our Digital Strategy for Schools to further embed technology and digital learning in our schools. This investment in ICT in schools will help underpin new subjects which we are introducing, including computer science at leaving cert and coding throughout the curriculum. 

Overall vision for Higher Education

Our ambition is to realise, over the lifetime of the Plan, a high quality higher education infrastructure that is equipped to cater to a significantly expanded student body; that supports innovative and flexible approaches to teaching and learning, including online provision; that is a driver of the ambitions of Project Ireland 2040 with regard to a more balanced population and employment growth across Ireland’s regions; and that has a sharp focus on developing and sustaining the skills and research base necessary to underpin Ireland’s competitiveness.   

Including PPP investments and support for research, we will be investing a total of €2.8 billion in Higher Education over the lifetime of the Project Ireland 2040. 

Today’s announcement focuses on key priorities for the coming five years, during which a total of €532m in additional Exchequer funding will be invested in infrastructure development across the sector. 

Today we are announcing:

  • A €112m refurbishment and upgrade programme. Of this total, three projects worth over €32 million are being announced today – a refurbishment and upgrade of STEM facilities in Dundalk IT, new engineering facilities for LIT Coonagh campus and upgrades to the GMIT Castlebar campus, with further projects in the pipeline to be announced in the coming months.
  • Co-funding of significant strategic projects. We will be investing €117 million in Exchequer funding, which we intend will leverage at least a further €117m in other investments:
  • Two projects are being announced today – a Future Tech building in DCU and a new Sports Science, Health and Recreation building in IT Tallaght.
  • A further €86m is being earmarked to support co-funded strategic projects with the aim of delivering at least the same amount again in private investments. The Higher Education Authority will be writing to Higher Education Institutions in the coming weeks to invite proposals in this category.
  • A Devolved Grant for minor works and equipment for all Institutes of Technology, totalling €10m, is also being announced today for the 2018/19 academic year. A review of the Devolved Grant mechanism is also being initiated to inform the approach to capital grants for minor works and equipment in the context of a gradually increasing funding envelope. 

Research

Support for research is also a key pillar of the approach of the Department of Education and Skills. Increased funding of €7m on an annual basis from 2019 will support an expansion in the number of awards through the Irish Research Council, as well as the further development of the ICT infrastructure that supports research in higher education institutions. This is in addition to the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, announced as part of the Project Ireland 2040, and other research and innovation investments by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. 

Overall vision for Further Education and Training

Supporting the development of apprenticeships, traineeships and further education is a key priority under the Project Ireland 2040. The government is committed to more than doubling the number of new apprentices registered to 9,000 by 2020 and expanding further into new areas. We will have the first ever capital budget for Further Education and Training under the Project Ireland 2040, which will see €300m invested over the next 10 years in modern, fit for purpose facilities. 

The capital funding of €8m for apprenticeship equipment in the IoTs announced earlier this year will directly support an estimated 2,300 additional apprentices across 13 trades. 

Notes for Editors 

School building programme

The provision of additional school places to cater for demographic pressures will remain a key priority throughout the lifetime of the Project Ireland 2040 will be aligned with the new approach to spatial planning envisaged in the National Planning Framework.   Nationally, enrolments at post-primary level are projected to continue to grow to 2025. While national enrolments at primary level are currently reaching peak levels, regional and local variations mean that there will be a continued strong need for provision of additional school places in areas of population growth – 26 of the 42 new schools to be established between 2019 and 2022 are at primary level.  

  • The current status of the 359 large-scale projects being delivered as part of the school building programme is set out in a single list on the Department’s website and updated on a monthly basis to reflect their progression through architectural design, tender and construction. Progression of large-scale projects on the school building programme remains a key priority. Key actions in this regard include:
  • Providing an indicative timeline for projects progressing to prequalification, tender and construction after they have completed the Stage 2b design process (planning permission received, detailed design completed)
  • The current Design and Build programme is being significantly expanded to cater for urgent accommodation needs. In the past this programme delivered an average of 12 new schools per year.  The current programme involves 27 projects in design that are scheduled to commence construction before the end of 2019.  Most of the 42 new schools that were announced in April 2018 are to be delivered under the Design and Build programme.  
  • The Department’s Additional Accommodation Scheme is a key mechanism for putting permanent accommodation solutions in place. The projects approved under the Department’s Additional Accommodation Scheme are listed on the Department’s website and updated on a weekly basis. 156 of these projects are currently at construction with a further 495 projects in design. Also, as part of the Prefab Replacement Programme, Department approvals under the Additional Accommodation Scheme will now also factor in appropriate provision for the replacement of existing prefabs at the relevant schools. For example, if a school requires an additional classroom and also has a class in a prefab it will be approved for 2 permanent classrooms to be delivered on a devolved basis under the Additional Accommodation Scheme.

Some examples of the 600 prefabs being replaced under the Prefab Replacement Programme in 2018/2019 include:  

Roll No.

School

Permanent project

No. of prefabs being replaced

20131D

Grangegorman ETNS

New 24 classroom school (plus new Special Needs Unit). Expected to go to site early 2019.

24 prefabs.

20043G

Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna, Knocklyon

New 16 classroom school. Expected to go to site early 2019.

17 prefabs

71840V

Coláiste Chiarain, Croom, Co. Limerick

New 850 pupil Post-Primary School. Project currently on site.

55 prefabs

19993E

Gaelscoil An Ghort Alainn, Cork

New 16 classroom school. Project currently on site.

15 prefabs

17961E

Lusk NS

Two new 16 classroom schools (Junior and Senior Schools). Buildings completed.

26 prefabs

18864L

Coosan NS, Athlone

New 16 classroom school. Project currently on site.

13 prefabs

18288B

Scoil Mhichil   Naofa, Athy

Refurb/extn. Stage 2B reviewed and pre-qualification of contractors in progress.

19 prefabs

20012S

Griffith   Barracks ET, SCR

New 16 classroom school. Project completed.

9 prefabs

62870G

Presentation College, Athenry

New 1,000 pupil school (plus new Special Needs Unit). Project currently on site.

12 prefabs

17159I

Garranbane National School, Dungarvan

Extension to existing school building. Project currently on site

8 prefabs

Higher Education

Major refurbishment and upgrade programme totalling €112m 

The projects announced today are:

  • Dundalk IT (€18.5m): A major phased refurbishment and upgrade of the North and South Blocks, which house the Institute’s STEM facilities, is being commenced. The refurbishment, which will also include an expansion of available laboratory space, will provide for an additional 760 student places, mostly in STEM-related disciplines relevant to industry in the North East. 
  • LIT Coonagh (€11.6m): Having supported LIT to acquire a new site in Coonagh for its engineering facilities, capital funding will now be provided to fit out the building on that site for academic purposes. This will provide for an additional 542 places on LIT’s engineering courses, an expansion which is considered essential to support industry demand in the region. In addition, the transfer of students to Coonagh, starting from 2019, will enable the demolition of prefabs on the Moylish site and pave the way for construction of a state of the art      Applied Sciences and ICT building through the PPP programme.
  • GMIT Castlebar campus (€2m): Funding of €2m will be provided to support an upgrade of the roof and other building fabric at the GMIT Castlebar campus. This recognises the health and safety challenge posed by the current roof condition and responds to a recommendation of the Working Group on Developing a Sustainable Plan for the Mayo Campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. 

Co-funding of significant strategic projects: €117 million in Exchequer funding aims to deliver at least a further €117m in other investments  

Project Ireland 2040 recognises the important role that non-Exchequer funding sources have in expanding and modernising higher education campuses, and, in its allocation decisions, the Department of Education and Skills is proactively seeking to maximise the leverage potential of Exchequer funds.

The co-funding of two major new projects is being announced today:

  • DCU €24m: Exchequer funding of €24m is pledged for a significant Future Tech building at DCU. This transformative new building at DCU’s Collins Avenue gateway will put the university at the leading edge in relation to development of skills in new technologies, and enable the campus to provide approximately 3,000 new student places. It also responds to the significant demographic pressures in DCU’s hinterland and will add essential new undergraduate and postgraduate teaching space to a campus which is now operating at close to full capacity.
  • IT Tallaght/TU for Dublin Sports Science, Health and Recreation €7.7m: Exchequer funding of €7.7m is confirmed for a new Sports Science, Health and Recreation building in IT Tallaght. The Institute has high demand for courses in this area and the Tallaght campus will provide the hub for Sports Science within the Technological University for Dublin. The balance of funding for the project is being provided from IT Tallaght’s own resources. 

The remainder of the €117m (€86m) is being earmarked as a HEI Strategic Infrastructure Fund. This complements the significant strategic projects to be delivered in Institutes of Technology through the Higher Education PPP programme, which is currently in design stage.

The Department of Education and Skills will support co-funded projects with the aim of delivering at least the same amount again in private investments. The Higher Education Institution will be required to seek the balance of funding through, for example, philanthropy, borrowing or own resources.

The key criteria for project selection under this Fund are:

  • Contribution to Project Ireland 2040 National Strategic Outcome 5 with regard to impact on skills, and national and regional economic development
  • Capacity to generate additional student places, with regard to current demographics and Project 2040 population and employment targets
  • Alignment with strategy and masterplan of HEI
  • Alignment with strategic priorities for sector generally, with focus on emerging skills areas/key enabling technologies, and flexibility to adapt to new developments
  • Capacity to support new methods of teaching and learning, including blended and online delivery
  • Capacity to leverage non-Exchequer funding sources 

In making decisions on projects to be funded in this category, account will be taken of the balance of projects across the sector as a whole and advancement of system-wide objectives.

The Higher Education Authority will be writing to Higher Education Institutions in the coming weeks to invite proposals in this category. 

Capital grant for minor works and equipment: €10m announced today for 2018/19 academic year, review to inform future mechanism 

A Devolved Grant totalling €10m to Institutes of Technology for the 2018/19 academic year is confirmed. The funding, which will support minor works and equipment renewal in Institutes of Technology, will be provided in January 2019 and will be allocated in accordance with enrolment bands.

A review of the Devolved Grant is also being announced today with a view to mapping out an enhanced capital grant mechanism in the context of a gradually increasing resource envelope under Project Ireland 2040. This review will examine, and make recommendations on, the following key issues:

  • Broadening the scope of the capital grant mechanism to encompass universities and other colleges, as funding levels permit
  • Appropriate reinvestment levels in HEI physical infrastructure
  • Suggested model(s) for grant allocations for minor works and equipment renewal – devolved grants vs ring-fenced grants for areas of strategic priority (e.g. ICT/digital transformation) 

The terms of reference for the review are currently being finalised. 

The review will be overseen by a Steering Group including representatives of the Department of Education and Skills, HEA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, THEA and the IUA. 

Other capital investments being progressed

Today’s announcements are in addition to other significant capital projects previously announced and currently being progressed across the higher education sector including:

  • Higher Education PPP Programme – currently in design stage and focused on the Institute of Technology sector
  • Grangegorman PPP Quads – two significant academic buildings to facilitate the move of 10,000 DIT students to the Grangegorman site are now under construction
  • TCD E3 building - Exchequer funding of €15m for the €60m development of the E3 Institute in TCD was announced earlier this year. This project is also being supported by a generous donation of €25m from the Naughton Foundation.
  • Modernisation of apprenticeship provision - €8m in Exchequer capital funding for apprenticeship delivery in Institutes of Technology, benefiting 13 trades and supporting an estimated 2,300 additional apprentices, was announced earlier this year. This was in addition to €8m also committed in 2017.