Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. His doing so is very timely because I have just received the application for Munster Technological University, which came in at 5 p.m. I was hoping that the application from the Technological University for the South East Ireland, TUSEI, would come in before the one from Munster Technological University but that has not happened.
The Deputy will be aware that the Technological Universities Act was enacted in 2018 and that Technological University Dublin has now been set up. I am extremely ambitious for our students and I really believed in the technological university, TU, project. It provides significant opportunities for our students, who are the most important people in this debate, and the regional agenda. We have received the second application. I would ask TUSEI to work on its application. I understand it is ready and I am awaiting it.
The Deputy mentioned Exchequer funding and grants. In respect of the development of TUs, the Exchequer has provided some €19 million to consortia since 2013. The TUSEI consortium has received €1.72 million of this higher education landscape restructuring funding. It should be remembered that the institutes are co-funding the projects through staff and resources allocation. While projects will require funding in order to start up and develop, over time they will, as TUs, be in a far stronger position to attract additional funding streams through research funding, product and services development and the attraction of increased numbers of international students and, as the Deputy stated, those from the south east.
The Higher Education Authority will be announcing a new 2019 call for funding submissions in support of TU development and other landscape restructuring projects in quarter 1. This is further evidence of Government's ongoing commitment to the reform of the higher education sector through judicious consolidation as set out in the national strategy for higher education to 2030. Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government has pledged €2.2 billion in capital expenditure to the higher education sector within the next decade. Government will also spend €4 billion on a wide range of projects over the period 2019 to 2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040. In that context, higher education institutions are well placed to benefit in the areas of rural and urban development, climate action and disruptive technology. A call-out for money has been made in many of these areas. The major investments being made under Project Ireland 2040 will have a transformative impact on our education system, particularly students, and those consortia developing into TUs will be well placed to benefit from the significant investment opportunities presented.