22 Irish third-level education projects awarded share of €197m

6 Oct 2020

Trinity College Dublin. Image: © Kayihan/Stock.adobe.com

22 projects have been awarded funding under the Human Capital Initiative, which focuses on innovation and skills in the higher education sector.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, has announced 22 education projects that will be funded under the Human Capital Initiative (HCI).

The projects include the use of virtual laboratories in higher education, a new hub to upskill the building sector on green construction, and the establishment of a Creative Futures Academy to support skills in digital and screen culture, cinema, literature and broadcasting, as well as art, design and fashion.

This is the third and final pillar of the HCI programme to be announced and it commands a total budget of €197m over the five-year period from 2020 to 2024. The HCI was first announced as part of Budget 2019, with the aim of delivering investment towards additional capacity in skills-focused programmes across the higher education sector to meet priority industry needs.

The first pillar of the initiative focuses on graduate conversion and specialisation courses, the second pillar focuses on additional places on undergraduate provision, and the third will focus on innovation and agility. The total initiative will see €60m allocated each year between 2020 and 2024 from the National Training Fund.

Changing teaching and learning

In a statement, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science said that innovative methods of teaching and delivery will be promoted on these third-pillar projects, so learners can benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses.

“I am delighted to be able to announce the broad range of projects that will be funded under the HCI Pillar 3,” Harris said. “These projects will develop and change teaching and learning. This global pandemic has reinforced the need for us all to be agile and diverse.

“Crucially though, it requires us to develop new skills and equip the next generation with the critical importance to the economy and the workplace of the future.”

Dr Alan Wall, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, added that it is “great to see the culmination of this process” as it represents hundreds of hours of work with the higher education institutions and an international panel.

Projects awarded funding

Of the 22 projects funded under the third HCI pillar, the largest individual investments were awarded to projects at Trinity College Dublin (€21m), Dublin City University (€20m) and TU Dublin (€17.5m).

The full list of projects approved for funding under Pillar 3 can be seen here. The lead institutions include:

  • Cork Institute of Technology
  • Dublin City University
  • Institute of Technology Carlow
  • Institute of Technology Sligo
  • Institute of Technology Tralee
  • Limerick Institute of Technology
  • Maynooth University
  • National College of Art and Design
  • NUI Galway
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • TU Dublin
  • University College Cork
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Limerick
  • Waterford Institute of Technology

The Institute of Technology Carlow was approved for more than €13m in funding, including direct funding for three projects as well as a collaboration with Waterford Institute of Technology.

David Denieffe, its vice-president of academic affairs, said: “Institute of Technology Carlow is delighted to be the lead institution for the cross-sectoral project on realising the potential of recognition of prior learning (RPL) and lifelong learning in Irish higher education.

“This significant project will make the commitment to RPL in the Programme for Government a reality by mobilising the entire public higher education system through the Irish Universities Association and the Technological Higher Education Association to deliver RPL in a coherent and systematic way for the benefit of learners and employers.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic