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€100 million investment under Project Ireland 2040 for five major building projects in higher education institutions

Posted 30 August, 2019

The UCD Future Campus Project is one of five major building projects at five higher education institutions to receive backing through the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) as part of ongoing investment in the sector through Project Ireland 2040.

The total investment of €100 million by the Government in higher education infrastructure was announced by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.

Welcoming the announcement by the Ministers of €25 million for the UCD Future Campus Project through the HEA Strategic Investment Fund (HESIF), the President of UCD, Professor Andrew Deeks said: 

“The commitment of €25 million by the Government towards our Future Campus project is a significant endorsement of our strategy to grow the University in size and quality over the next ten years to contribute to a flourishing Irish society.” 

“Phase 1 of the Future Campus project will provide c22,500sqm of new state-of-the art teaching, learning and research facilities for students and staff, enhancing the UCD experience and increasing our capacity.  This phase includes an iconic Centre for Creativity and a world-class Centre for Future Learning, set in a stunning campus entrance plaza which will welcome students, employees and the wider community, giving a sense of arrival to what is already an outstanding campus,” he continued.

“The total cost of this phase is some €190 million and already we have received confirmation of a major donation from a private philanthropist for the Centre for Creativity. The commitment from Government is very welcome news, and I am confident that we will now be able to put in place the full funding required to deliver the project.”

“UCD is Ireland’s largest and most globally engaged University. We anticipate growth in student numbers of 25% over the next ten years, and we expect to further build on our strong research record. This project is part of our preparation for this next phase of growth,” he concluded.

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

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

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 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.

Overview of selected projects

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.  

Maynooth University – Technology Society & Innovation Project  

  • Total Project Cost: c€57m
  • 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: c€18.6m
  • 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: c€106m
  • 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: c€39m
  • 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.

By: Staff Writers, UCD University Relations