The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, today (9 October 2019) announced an increase of over €153 million for tertiary education. This will provide for a wide range of measures to provide greater choice and opportunity to students, meet future skills needs, support student well-being and promote excellence in research.
This funding will provide:
The Minister said:
This initiative focuses on key priorities identified by Government through Future Jobs Ireland and will form a key part of the strategic response to a changing world of work and the challenges the economy will face. With a strong focus on innovation and agility, the programmes being supported will enable us to ensure that our graduates and the education system as a whole, are in a position to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:
This fund will assist TUs to deliver on national strategic priorities: broadening access to higher education, promoting quality research, and excellence in teaching and learning for our students. It will also support increased regional development and socio-economic progress with the long standing connections these institutions have in their regions with business, enterprise and local communities.
The Minister said:
The objective of the €3.3 million funding is to strengthen the international competitiveness and visibility of Ireland’s research capability.
Excellence in research emerges on the basis of international competition and collaboration, and these are increasingly important, especially in addressing today's global challenges. Ireland's research system is well regarded internationally in relation to factors such as academic freedom, a culture of open intellectual engagement and support for innovation.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated:
Funding of €2 million is being provided for student mental health and wellbeing initiatives in the higher education sector.
Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said:
This Initiative focuses on key priorities identified by Government through Future Jobs Ireland and will form a key part of the strategic response to a changing world of work and the challenges the economy will face in the period ahead. With a strong focus on innovation and agility, the programmes being supported will enable us to ensure that our graduates and the education system as a whole, are in a position to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The primary objective of the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) is to underpin the provision of additional capacity across the Higher Education Sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise. It represents an additional investment of €300m (€60m per annum from 2020 to 2024) from the surplus in the National Training Fund in line with recommendations contained in the independent review of the National Training Fund on the use of the surplus and the development of labour market skills.
The TURN group has been working since early 2019, and its report is expected to be launched shortly.
The TURN group has examined the case for a state change in higher education reform for the delivery of national strategic priorities such as are elaborated in Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan and Future Jobs Ireland. This is to be achieved through the connectedness, particularly at regional level, collaboration and connectivity of technological universities (TUs) and their unique delivery of programmes across the full range of the National Framework of Qualifications from apprenticeships to doctoral degrees.
The critical issues analysed by the TURN centre upon three thematic areas that have been identified as the essential building blocks for successful TUs:
Progress in relation to these priority themes can only be achieved through a structured, system-wide, relevant and dynamic process that will ensure value for money, underpinned by a robust and evidence-based set of monitoring and evaluation arrangements.
TU Dublin was established on 1 January 2019 and is the largest Higher Education Institution in the State with over 28,000 students.
TU development consortia currently include:
In addition, Athlone IT and Limerick IT have applied for landscape funding for proposals earlier this year to initiate a TU development consortium. The application under the 2019 HEA call for higher education landscape restructuring submissions would see the two institutions coming together to jointly form a consortium with a view to making an application for designation under the Technological Universities Act 2018.
To date the Exchequer has provided €19.22 million to consortia of Institutes of Technology and to TU Dublin for the development and progression of TU proposals. Funding in 2018 amounted to €9.2m in for TU development. Funding allocations in relation to TUs and other landscape proposals under the 2019 HEA landscape restructuring funding call will shortly be issued by Minister Mitchell O’Connor totalling €14m. The majority of funding will again be directed at TU development and progression. Other landscape projects such as North-South strategic alliances, the completion of the incorporation of St. Angela’s College Sligo into NUI Galway, and regional cluster projects in support of regional development objectives of Project Ireland 2040 will be funded in 2019 and continue to be funded by Government going forward.
This competitive initiative is aimed at encouraging our third level institutions to develop excellence strategies in research performance through for example:
Experience from other European countries, and further afield, shows that higher education institutions perform best when they collaborate with other leading institutions internationally, but also compete with one another at home.
Research-intensive institutions connect their education, research and innovation activities:
Details of the scheme will be finalised by the department in the coming weeks, following which a competitive call will be issued to the third level sector by the Higher Education Authority.
Serious mental health difficulties emerge for young people between the ages of 18-25, with 75% of adults with mental illness first experiencing symptoms before the age of 25. In the academic year 2017/18, upwards of 12,000 students availed of Student Counselling Services (SCS) in higher education institutions. On that basis these services are by far the largest national provider of psychologically based mental health services to this age group.
The Youth Mental Health Task Force recommended in 2017 that provision of counselling and mental health supports in higher education institutions should be enhanced. Mental health and psychological services currently provided by SCS in higher education institutions are highly valued by students, but access to these services can be a challenge.
The objective of the initiative is to enhance the capacity of SCS, for example by providing funding for the recruitment of additional counsellors, and to reduce waiting time for students by supplementing the funding that institutions already invest in the provision of services to students. This investment will help institutions progress towards the achievement of international best practice ratios of student counsellors to students.
Each higher education institution will benefit from this funding, which will enable them to enhance the range of services they are currently offering to their students.
All Institutions are required to have in place appropriate student services, which includes counselling services and health promotion.
As part of their services to students, each institution considers what is most appropriate in the particular context of their own institution and their student’s needs, while also considering best practice models such as peer-led support programmes and seeking to liaise with external services to the fullest extent possible.