17 October, 2018 - Minister Mitchell O’Connor underlines 20% increase in investment levels in Higher Education in three years since 2016 following announcements in Budget 2019 while launching Maynooth University Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, speaking this morning in Maynooth University highlighted her role in securing agreement in the recent Budget for the €300m multiannual Human Capital Initiative (HCI) for Higher Education (HE).

The HCI will fund programmes in HE meeting priority skill needs for the five year period 2020 – 2024 through the release of surplus income in the National Training Fund (NTF). The funding will be made available through competitive challenge based calls to Higher Education Institutions promoting student -centred reform and innovation in course provision.

The use of the surplus was highlighted by enterprise as a priority in the recent independent review of the NTF.

While delivering her address the Minister said, “The total current and capital investment by Government in higher education will be €337m higher in 2019 than in 2016 – an increase in excess of 20%.

This clearly represents very significant progress in responding to the funding requirements of the higher education sector.   Capital investment in higher education in 2019 will be €138m compared to €70.6m in 2018. In total we will spend €532m over the next five years.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor continued, “I am pleased that The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform agreed to the establishment of a 5 year €300m Human Capital Initiative.   I had lobbied Minister Donohoe to release the surplus funds of the NTF and to ensure that this money would go into higher education to help sustain our economic performance.  

The HCI will involve investment over a five year period, from 2020 to 2024, with €60m being made available in each of those years. The HCI will underpin the provision of additional capacity across the higher education sector to meet priority skills needs including those required to respond to Brexit risks.   The HCI will also promote reform and innovation in programme design and delivery for the benefit of the learner”

The Minister stressed that, “Building on progress to date continued in Budget 2019 in increasing funding to HE, it is essential to intensify our work on the HE funding model to accommodate the needs of a growing population of young people for which there is an onus on us to provide a quality learning experience for all at Third Level”

Furthermore under Project Ireland 2040 there will be a near trebling of the higher education capital budget compared to the past decade from €0.8 billion to €2.2 billion, which will be invested in infrastructure in our third level institutions.