30 August, 2019 – Almost €100 million investment under Project Ireland 2040 for five major building projects in higher education institutions

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today announced almost €100 million is to be invested by the Government in major building projects at five higher education institutions. 

As part of ongoing investment in the sector through Project Ireland 2040, the funding has been approved in principle to help support up to 14,000 new places for students in higher education institutions. 

The successful projects being backed through the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) are: 

  • €25m    Maynooth University, Technology Society & Innovation Building.
  • €6.6m   IT Sligo, Extension to Central Campus Project.
  • €25m    UCC, Cork University Business School (CUBS) Project.  
  • €15m    NUI Galway, Learning Commons Project.
  • €25m    UCD, Future Campus Project. 

Minister McHugh has approved in principle capital investments of €96.6m in these projects as part of Project Ireland 2040 to support the delivery of up to 14,000 additional student places across the sector. 

Project Ireland 2040 will ultimately see Exchequer investment of €2.2 billion in our higher education infrastructure over the coming decade by the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority (HEA). 

Minister McHugh said the award of such significant levels of funding would significantly enhance the capacity of the sector in advancing Ireland’s national and regional ambitions. 

“The funding announced today facilitates a total investment of more than half a billion euro in higher education infrastructure over the coming five years,” Minister McHugh said. 

“This will have a major positive impact on the sector’s ability to cater for significant increases in enrolments over the coming decade. We are planning and investing for the future and with that we are driving choice and increasing options for students around the country. 

“Ambition is at the heart of these plans. These projects and new buildings will have an important regional and national impact but they will also enhance the competitiveness of Ireland’s higher education system on the international stage.” 

Minister McHugh noted that a key objective of the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund was to encourage non-Exchequer investment in the sector, with the five projects in this round also expected to leverage more than €400m in non-Exchequer co-funding. 

Minister McHugh added: “I am particularly pleased at the projected level of non-Exchequer investment alongside the Government investment. This collaborative approach is very much in the spirit of Project Ireland 2040, which recognises the importance of private finance in the delivery of infrastructure in the sector.” 

Between 2017 and 2030, the number of full-time students enrolled in higher education is projected to increase by more than 38,000 to a total of more than 222,000. 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Today’s significant announcement complements other capital investments in the sector, including the Higher Education Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme and the development of the TU Dublin City Campus at Grangegorman. 

“Private finance played a critical role in the development of our university campuses during a time of particular difficulty for the public finances. This co-funding approach responds to calls from the sector for a greater level of State support while recognising the continued importance of leveraging other sources of investment. 

“The projects that have been approved in principle for funding will significantly advance the objectives of Project Ireland 2040, including in underpinning the talent pipeline that is essential to Ireland’s growth as an economy and society, and in supporting regional objectives. The buildings themselves will be highly innovative and sustainable, future-proofed to support the most up-to-date approaches to teaching and learning, and designed to facilitate the multi-disciplinary engagement that is so critical to tackling the challenges of today and of the future.” 

The five projects were selected following a detailed application and assessment process and based on the capacity of the projects to deliver on the objectives of the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund. 

The core objectives of the fund are as follows:

  • Contribute to National Strategic Outcome 5 under Project Ireland 2040; A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, in particular with regard to development of the talent pipeline necessary to drive economic growth;
  • Provide for additional student places consistent with current enrolment projections and Project Ireland 2040 population and employment targets;
  • Support new methods of teaching and learning in both on-campus and online environments; and
  • Leverage non-Exchequer sources of funding to advance investment in the sector.

The projects selected are at different stages of development and, in most cases, significant planning and design work is still required to bring the projects to tender stage. 

The projects will be subject to ongoing economic and financial appraisal, and a further approval will be required by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) before a project proceeds to tender. 


Notes for Editors 

In all cases, the five projects are devolved to the higher education institutions for delivery in accordance with the Public Spending Code and the Capital Works Management Framework. 

The Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund is one of a number of capital investment programmes which are collectively expanding and upgrading core infrastructure in the sector. The Higher Education Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme will significantly expand and enhance capacity in the technological university/ institute of technology sector. Funding is also being allocated through the Infrastructure Upgrade and Refurbishment Fund to modernise existing infrastructure. 

Overview of selected projects 

Maynooth University – Technology Society & Innovation Project

Total Project Cost:                  €57m approx.

Exchequer Funding:                up to €25m 

The capital development planned by Maynooth University includes over 10,000m2 new build construction, as well as the refurbishment and upgrade of existing space on campus. It will enable an increase of over 3,000 student places, with enrolment growth focused on areas essential to economic and societal development. In particular, the new development seeks to bring together and integrate the disciplines of business, law and social science with science, engineering and technology in order to address the enterprise, social and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. 

IT Sligo – Extension to Central Building (E01) Project

Total Project Cost:                  €18.6m approx.

Exchequer Funding:                up to €6.6m  

IT Sligo plans to develop a new four storey extension of a central building on its main campus which will deliver new, high quality academic facilities to cater for growth in online/blended learning enrolments, increased numbers of research students (in line with ambitions to form part of a future technological university) and expansion of full-time programmes. IT Sligo has been a national leader in the provision of online courses which respond to the economy’s skill and labour market needs. The new campus extension will ensure the appropriate learning environment, tools and support services to underpin the next phase of growth in this area. The development is projected to support the delivery of over 2,400 (full-time equivalent) student places over the coming decade. 

UCC – Cork Business School (CUBS) Project

Total Project Cost:                  €106m approx.

Exchequer Funding:                up to €25m 

UCC plans to develop a state of the art building for its Business School – Cork University Business School (CUBS) – in Cork city centre. The new building will enable the provision of high quality business education at all levels, supporting the economic and development needs of the South West region, boosting the quality of management in indigenous and multinational companies and making a substantial contribution to Ireland’s ambitions as a hub for innovation. The project will contribute to the regeneration and revitalisation of Cork city centre and growth of more than 2,500 in student places s across UCC campuses. 

NUI Galway – Learning Commons Project

Total Project Cost:                  €39m approx.

Exchequer Funding:                up to €15m 

NUI Galway plans to undertake a major regeneration of the existing library building to allow for significant internal reconfiguration and transformation to a new Learning Commons. When originally built in 1973 the building was designed to cater for 3,500 students; the university now has a student population of over 18,000. By providing a wide variety of new types of reconfigurable spaces, the project will facilitate an additional 2,000 student places across the campus and will enable new forms of connection between teaching, learning, research and scholarship. 

UCD – Future Campus Project

Total Project Cost:                  c€190m

Exchequer Funding:                €25m 

UCD is embarking on a significant new phase of campus development, which will involve the creation of some 22,500m2 of high quality teaching, learning, research and engagement space. The development plan includes a Centre for Future Learning, which will enable state of the art education provision in a building designed to support small group teaching and active learning, and a Centre for Creativity which will, inter alia, house expanded engineering provision and the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy. This phase of development will relieve capacity pressures on existing campus buildings and will also facilitate student place growth of some 3,300.