Thursday, 17 May 2018
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Institutions
The National Strategy on Higher Education to 2030, which was published in 2011 by the then Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, stated that there was no case for the establishment of any new universities in Ireland on the basis set out in Section 9 of the Universities Act 1997.
The National Planning Framework includes a national objective regarding the expansion and consolidation of higher education facilities, particularly where this will contribute to wider regional development and programmes for life-long learning, especially in areas where skills gaps are identified. The framework seeks to prioritise the alignment of targeted and planned population and employment growth with educational investment. The National Development Plan 2018 – 2027 also emphasises investment in higher education in the regions to underpin economic and employment growth.
The higher education sector will see a very significant ramping up of investment ininfrastructure in existing higher education institutions, from approximately €800 million over the past decade to €2.2 billion over the coming decade. This will cater for the growth in enrolments due to demographic changes, improve the quality of provision and build competitiveness at the national and regional level, through ensuring a pool of relevant skills. In October 2016, it was announced that new buildings across 11 Institutes of Technology would be included in a PPP Programme for the higher education sector. It is projected that the buildings will deliver a total of 8,000 new student places and will significantly enhance the capacity of those institutions to meet regional and national skills needs. The Government is also investing significantly in the Dublin Institute of Technology Grangegorman campus with the sod being turned on a €220m building project on 30 April 2018.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Technological Universities Act was signed into law on 19 March 2018. The development of technological universities has the potential to deliver social and economic benefits to their regions through a strengthened role in research and innovation and the delivery of a broad range of high quality education and training in each of their campuses.
Other than the potential establishment of technological universities under the 2018 Act, there are no proposals at this time for any new higher education institution to be established to cater specifically for demographic growth.