Saturday, 18th November 2017
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John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, has announced plans for the construction of a multi million euro Engineering, Computing and General Teaching building at Waterford Institute of Technology.

Part of a €200 million investment in ‘New Buildings for IoTs’, the WIT development is to be included in the Department of Education and Skills’ latest Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme for the sector.

The proposed new building will be located on a standalone WIT-owned site on the Institute’s main Cork Road campus and its construction will provide for the consolidation of a number of faculties in one space and generate efficiencies for WIT, Minister Halligan confirmed:

"This major infrastructural investment in WIT will deliver state of the art engineering, ICT and general teaching space and will be a transformative development for the Institute and for the wider region, providing improved and enlarged fit-for-purpose educational facilities that will allow for significantly increased student intake, as well as delivering on key skills areas that have been identified as priorities by industry in the south-east.”

Minister Halligan further confirmed that the possibility of relocating the Humanities department and other activities from WIT’s College Street campus to the main Cork Road campus is also under review, as part of agreeing the final scale and scope of the project:

"The Department of Public Expenditure is currently reviewing a Cost Benefit Analysis submitted by WIT to determine the precise scale and scope of the project. The outcome of this will be known in the coming weeks”, Minister Halligan added.

Plans for the proposed new building at WIT were originally made a decade ago and significant funds were invested clearing the site and preparing designs at that time, but the project was cancelled in November 2011 due to constraints on public finances.

Minister Halligan said the fall-off in capital investment in the sector had negatively impacted on the skills available to industry in the south east but the new development would be a significant move towards addressing this:

"This modern, purpose-built facility will lead to a step change in STEM-related skills in the south east. The new facilities will help drive regional development and give WIT the flexibility it needs to expand and develop”, Minister Halligan concluded.

The PPP Programme is being rolled-out alongside €367 million in funding from the Department of Education and Skills for investment in higher education over the period 2018-2021. Additional funding of €257 million was secured in the Budget last week following the mid-term review of the Capital Plan.

Richard Bruton T.D., Minister for Education and Skills, said today’s announcement in Waterford, one of 11 made at IoTs across the country, fulfils a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade:

"I have set the ambition to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade. The delivery of these projects, together with the additional €257m over three years capital funding which we secured last week in the Budget, mark a turning point for State investment in the higher education sector. They demonstrate the commitment of the Government to supporting the sector in catering for demographic growth, responding to skills needs in the economy and improving the campus environment for students and staff.

The locality will also benefit from the new facilities being provided as many HEIs make their grounds and buildings available to the community. It is also expected to provide an important boost to the relevant local economies and to the construction industry, creating approximately 1,500 construction-related jobs during the construction phase alone.”

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