Some 23 higher education institutions in Ireland are to receive €23 million in funding as part of an effort to encourage innovation.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, and the Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, announced today that 22 projects across the institutions will receive funding to go towards innovation and transformation.
The projects will focus on collaboration and innovation across the higher education sector. In a press statement, McHugh said: “This €23 million fund is being used to reward and support higher education institutions that are coming up with innovative ideas to attract people to third level and those that are doing more to create flexible options for learning.”
“The Government has recognised we need to do more to open up third level education and now we are backing that cause by providing millions in funding for the right initiatives”, he said.
The fund is one of a number of measures being put in place to improve higher education institutions in Ireland, as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. The 23 institutions are comprised of the eight universities, 10 institutes of technology, two specialist colleges, one further education college and five other state and non-state bodies.
Trinity will receive €1,574,655, for a project aiming to improve student support services to address mental health issues.
Other projects will create partnerships between third-level institutions and organisations such as Family Carers Ireland, the Disability Federation of Ireland, and An Cosán (a community-based project that works to create pathways into leadership and enterprise through education).
Mitchell O’Connor said of the projects: “Innovation and discovery is what our higher education institutions do best…[t]he fund will support a range of projects focused on developing new pathways and methods of teaching to support the participation of students from a diverse range of backgrounds.”
“They will”, she said, “help students to develop individually, address student retention and support enhanced progression of students across higher education institutions. It is a real investment in our education system and in our students”.
In October 2018, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) launched a major public campaign, titled Save Our Spark, to address the current funding crisis in higher education. Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA, expressed concern at the government’s inaction in addressing the rising costs associated with the increasing number of students entering higher education. In an interview with the University Times in August, he said that “If action isn’t taken, the only certainty is that there won’t be places for some of those students. That’s the result of this. And the quality of the education people will get will suffer.”