Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has today announced that the green light has been given to Kerry Education and Training Board to proceed to the next stage in developing a College of The Future (COTF) in Killarney.
The project proposed is the repurposing of an existing factory site, including the existing on-site buildings and transform it into a state-of-the-art campus.
In addition, Minister Harris has confirmed Munster Technological University has been given the go ahead to proceed to the next phase for the Kerry Campus Learner Centre under the Technological Sector Strategic Projects (TSSPF) Fund.
Speaking today, Minister Harris said:
“This is a brilliant day for Kerry. Killarney has been chosen as one of ten locations to proceed to develop a further education College of the Future.
“The College of the Future Major Projects Fund will support the implementation of the vision set out in the Further Education Strategy. This Fund, and the proposed for development in Killarney has the potential to deliver on a range of strategic objectives, including driving economic growth and social development, digital teaching and learning facilities, expansion of courses delivered and the creation of centres of excellence. It is great that the Killarney proposal will now proceed to business case.”
In addition, Minister Harris confirmed MTU has been successful under the Technological Sector Strategic Projects (TSSPF) Fund to proceed to develop the business case for a new Kerry Campus Learner Centre. This proposal envisages the facilitation of full consolidation on the Tralee North Campus which will serve 2,000 to 3,000 students.
Minister Harris added:
“At the beginning of the year I set out my vision for a new phase of capital investment in the higher education sector, and specifically the technological sector, that would act as an enabler to achieve and meet the ambitions and needs of this sector.
“Today is a key milestone as we see MTU Kerry and KETB Killarney strategic assessment reports emerge from the first part of a robust strategic assessment process, and move to the next phase of the project life cycle development, which will see the development of preliminary business case.
“Investment will play an important role in supporting the technological sector as drivers of regional development by allowing them to better meet the needs of learners in their region, to deepen existing and forge new relationships with business and enterprise and to respond in an agile fashion to future developments.
“Advanced these capital proposals is key to ensuring a pipeline of key strategic projects delivers for our learner, economic and societal needs, and we need to keep these objectives at the heart of all our decision making. The outcomes of the business case stage will inform the development of a pipeline of projects and future capital investment decisions. The proposal developments to be advanced under the Technological Strategic Projects Fund and Further Education and Training College of the Future Major Projects fund will complement significant investment right across the technological sector and further education and training sector.”
Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said:
“Today’s announcement marks an important step forward for learners and communities in the Kerry area, but also an important milestone in the evolution of FET facilities and provision nationwide. Killarney College of the Future is part of a larger shift towards distinct, integrated colleges of FET around the country, which will serve as a beacons of community-based learning excellence.
“As we continue to deliver cutting edge campuses that showcase the very best of FET, we will start to change the hearts and minds of Irish society with regard to school-leaver and lifelong education options. A warm congratulations to my colleagues in Kerry Education & Training Board, Munster Technological University and all of the potential learners in the Kerry area on what is an inspiring day for both the region and the sector.”
MTU President, Professor Maggie Cusack, said:
“This development marks another step towards MTU becoming a truly great, globally competitive university. The business case for the Kerry Campus Learner Centre can lead to better opportunities for thousands of current and future students and staff, benefitting generations to come across Tralee, Kerry and the Southwest region. We’re very grateful for Minster Harris’ continuing support for MTU and look forward to building a strong case for additional capital and infrastructure investment.”
Chair of MTU’s Governing Body, Jimmy Deenihan, said:
“On behalf of MTU, I would like to thank Minister Harris for this significant announcement which is a major boost for MTU. This development will further enhance Tralee as a university town.
“A new Learner Centre would make our university a very attractive choice for future learners, and together with the commencement of the planned STEM building, is a major vote of confidence in MTU.”
The CEO of Kerry ETB, Colm McEvoy said:
"We welcome today’s announcement by Minister Harris following the assessment of our Strategic Assessment Report for this proposal. Kerry ETB is delighted to get approval to proceed to the next phase in this process and develop a formal business case.
“We are determined to bring this project to reality and work will commence immediately on developing the business case. When completed this new campus in Killarney, which is fully aligned with the organisations commitment to supporting lifelong learning, will provide a regional and national FET campus of excellence that will benefit thousands of leaners and support local, regional and national development.
“I wish to thank the Department for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and SOLAS for their continued support of our vison for the future of further education and training across County Kerry.”
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