€24 million Government funding under new Human Capital Initiative creates additional university and college places on 138 undergraduate courses
22 higher education institutions benefit from increased investment
Ministers make call for further proposals with new Innovation and Agility round opening today
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today (Monday 16th December 2019) announced 3,000 new places on 138 full-time undergraduate courses for autumn 2020 and 2021.
The additional opportunities for students are being created thanks to Government investment of €24 million in the second round of funding under the Human Capital Initiative.
The new university and college places have been awarded to 22 higher education institutions following a competitive call for the expansion of existing courses in key skills areas.
The places are provided following applications under Pillar Two of the Human Capital Initiative, a key part of the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland strategy and its focus on enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent.
Third level institutions have been backed by Government to address key areas which have been identified as high priority enterprise skills needs such as science, engineering, ICT and professional construction.
For each extra place that is provided on target courses, higher education institutions will be allocated €2,500 in additional funding
Minister McHugh said: “This is the Human Capital Initiative and Government investment of more than €24 million at work – creating more and better opportunities for students on courses that help to answer challenges of the future.
“We know where the demands are for highly educated, qualified graduates. And this investment is responding directly to that need. There is a future focus to many of the courses, like robotics and intelligent devices, digital healthcare, building services and renewable energy.
“Government is looking to tomorrow; our education system is backing the vision; and our universities and colleges are answering the call to prepare students with better skills for a changing world of work. This investment is a key part of the Government’s strategy, under Future Jobs Ireland.”
Speaking at the launch of the Athlone Institute of Technology’s new Strategic Plan, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “At this time of year, when our Leaving Cert students are deciding which courses to select for their CAO applications I am delighted to be able to announce almost 3,000 additional places on 138 courses over the next two years.
“This generation will cope with more complex problems than any before them.Our students deserve the widest choice and the best opportunities to help prepare them for the future. I am determined that we will continue to develop our programmes and work with enterprise to ensure that our graduates are among the best prepared and equipped to meet our future challenges.”
The Ministers also marked the investment package and expanded third level opportunities by announcing the opening of the Call for Proposals under Pillar 3 of the Human Capital Initiative.
This pillar invites applications for funding from higher education institutions with a focus on two key areas:
Innovation in modes and methods of delivery – Ensuring that courses in areas of key skills needs demonstrate innovative methods of teaching and delivery. In particular there will be a focus on new approaches to teaching and learning to ensure students are equipped with the skills they need to be effective and successful in a future world of work being transformed by technology.
Agility – Supporting measures to enable higher education institutions and students to prepare for and respond to future developments in work, technology and society.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Today I am announcing the call for proposals under Pillar 3 of the Human Capital Initiative. This will incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision, building on best practice nationally and internationally, strongly supporting innovation in programme design and delivery.
“It is aimed at giving institutions the agility necessary to respond to developments in technology that may not yet be evident, and gives students the skills to adapt to a constantly changing world of work. I am sure that we will see many innovative and forward-looking projects submitted under this call.”
The primary objective of the Human Capital Initiative is to fund additional capacity across the higher education sector and to use that investment to meet priority skill needs for the future.
The special fund totals €300m over five years – €60m a year from 2020 to 2024.
Pillar One of the Human Capital Initiative, which will be launched in early 2020 will comprise Government investment of €65 million in graduate conversion courses.
Notes for Editor
The HCI will incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision building on best practice nationally and internationally, strongly supporting innovation in programme design and delivery. It aims to future-proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of higher education course provision on promoting and embedding skills that crossover disciplines.
In the development of the HCI, and in the competitive calls for each of the three pillars, there are a number of key areas of focus for actions. These are:
- Priority skills needs for the economy, particularly in high-productivity growth sectors.
- Mitigating Brexit risks.
- Promoting regional development and Project Ireland 2040 objectives.
- Innovation and reform in programme provision.
- Responding to digitalisation and the future world of work.
- Strengthening relationships with enterprise and addressing identified future skills needs.
- Provision of upskilling and reskilling through lifelong learning.
Priority skills are identified though the detailed and comprehensive framework now in place under the National Skills Council, including publications from the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), the work of the Regional Skills Fora, the NTF Advisory Group, and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, and direct involvement of employers.
The HCI consists of 3 main pillars:
Pillar 1: Graduate Conversion Courses
Pillar 2: Additional Places on Existing Courses
Pillar 3: Innovation and Agility
Pillar 1: Graduate Conversion Programmes
Extending the approach currently in place for ICT under Springboard+, these programmes will offer incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies e.g. ICT, High End Manufacturing, Data Analytics, Robotics, AI.
Springboard+, and its associated NTF funding, will continue to provide one-year part time programmes to enable people to upskill and reskill in areas of identified skills needs. For the purposes of calls, marketing and administration, the Graduate Conversion Programmes and Springboard+ will be run as a single initiative.
The call for proposals under Pillar 1 will issue in early 2020. A fund of €65 million has been designated for this pillar under the Human Capital Initiative.
Pillar 2: Expansion of Existing Places on Undergraduate Courses
These additional student places will address identified key areas of enterprise skills needs as detailed in the National Skills Bulletin 2018, and other data sources, including, but not limited to, Science, Engineering, ICT, and Professional Construction qualifications. Places will be provided through increased and incentivised provision in full time undergraduate provision.
Places are on full award, full-time undergraduate courses at levels 6 to 8 on the NFQ in higher education institutions. For each extra place that is provided on target courses, higher education institutions will be allocated €2,500 in additional funding
Pillar 3: Innovation and Agility
This pillar has two key streams – innovation in modes and methods of delivery and an agility fund.
The innovation stream aims to ensure that courses in areas of skills needs demonstrate innovative methods of teaching and delivery, so that students will benefit from innovative teaching methods on an enterprise-focused course.
The agility stream will enable higher education institutions and students to be in a position to respond to future developments in work, technology and society. It is aimed at giving institutions the agility necessary to respond to developments in technology that may not yet be evident, and gives students the skills to adapt to a constantly changing world of work.
The call for Proposals under this pillar opens today at 3pm, and details will be available on the HEA website www.hea.ie
Funding for the HCI is being provided from the surplus in the National Training Fund (NTF) in line with recommendations contained in the independent review of the NTF on the use of the surplus and the development of labour market skills.
Pillar 2 Courses and Places by Academic Category
International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) area:
No. of Courses
|No. of Places|
0521 Environmental Sciences
0610 Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) not further defined or elsewhere classified
0611 Computer use
0612 Database and network design and administration
0613 Software and applications development and analysis
0710 Engineering and engineering trades not further defined or elsewhere classified
0711 Chemical engineering and processes
0713 Electricity and energy
0714 Electronics and automation
0715 Mechanics and metal trades
0720 Manufacturing and processing not further defined or elsewhere classified
0721 Food processing
0732 Building and civil engineering
Other eligible courses
Number of courses and places by higher education institution:
Number of Courses
Number of Additional Places
Athlone Institute of Technology
Computing College of Technology CCT
Cork Institute of Technology
Dublin Business School DBS
Dublin City University
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
Griffith College Dublin GCD
Institute of Technology Carlow
Institute of Technology Sligo
Institute of Technology Tralee
Letterkenny Institute of Technology
Limerick Institute of Technology
National College of Ireland NCI
National University of Ireland, Galway
Trinity College Dublin
University College Cork
University College Dublin
Waterford Institute of Technology