Minister Simon Harris said the funding would facilitate the return of students to campus and support longer-term projects.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, has announced that the Government is making a €38m investment in Ireland’s third-level institutions.
The funding will go towards a number of areas related to the reopening of college campuses, including “minor works and equipment” needed to facilitate the return of students, the provision of laptops and other equipment for disadvantaged students, and health and safety works.
Money will also be put into infrastructure to facilitate the additional third-level places being provided this year to cope with increased student demand.
Additionally, colleges will get funding for energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects, accessibility improvement works and general technological upgrades.
The investment is part of the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 project and will be funnelled through the Higher Education Authority.
Approximately €19.87m will go to the country’s institutes and technological universities, with the largest portions for TU Dublin (€3.59m), Munster Technological University (€2.68m) and Waterford Institute of Technology (€1.94m).
The other €18.44m will go to universities and other colleges, with University College Dublin (€3.94m), University College Cork (€2.94m), NUI Galway (€2.65m) and Trinity College Dublin (€2.64m) receiving the most.
The laptop distribution scheme for disadvantaged students will be run by individual institutions’ access offices, with students applying through those offices if they think they may be eligible.
The scheme is said to be “primarily aimed at first year students” but open to all. Last year, a similar project saw 8,000 laptops distributed to students in higher education.
“Today, students across the country will begin to return to colleges for the first time in 19 months. It is an incredibly exciting but I am sure nervous time for many. I am very pleased to announce a significant devolved capital grant for the higher education sector to support a range of capital priorities,” Harris said.
“The grant funding will also help facilitate the safe and very welcome return of students to campus-based learning, and will allow higher education institutions to carry out necessary minor works and equipment upgrades across their estates over the coming year.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the issue of digital inequity. In response to this, I announced funding last year for the procurement of laptops to lend to students who did not have the resources to acquire a device themselves. I am pleased that this initiative will continue into the coming academic year, and higher education institutions will be able to use the devolved capital grant to procure additional laptops where they are required.”
Last month, Harris announced that the Irish Research Council was investing €7.9m in 80 research projects for enterprise and employers.