Strong Focus on STEM, including ICT, Engineering and Life Sciences to drive Regional Development

11 new Higher Education buildings to provide over 8,000 new student places & 75,000m2 teaching and learning space

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., today welcomed key progress on the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme for the higher education sector.  Minister Coveney has welcomed the developments, particularly in relation to Cork Institute of Technology.

Design teams have been appointed to each of the 11 building projects, which are in Institutes of Technology across the country. The final scope of each project has been agreed and the necessary technical and economic appraisals undertaken. The design teams of architects and engineers will now bring the projects through the initial design and planning process.

The 11 projects will help drive regional development and meet many of the skills needs that have been identified by the National Skills Council and the nine regional skills fora, which were established last year by Minister Bruton.

These state of the art 11 projects will lead to a step change in STEM-related skills, including ICT, engineering and life sciences across the country. These new facilities will help drive regional development and will be transformative for the individual institutions and the regions they serve.

This PPP programme will be paid for through monthly unitary charge payments to the private operator who will not only construct these projects but maintain them for 25 years post-construction. A capital envelope of €200m was signalled in the 2016-21 Capital Plan for this programme.

This 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. Project Ireland 2040 provides for a significant ramping up in Exchequer funding to support infrastructure priorities in the higher education sector.  €2.2 billion will be made available over the coming decade to support refurbishment, new buildings and equipment renewal in the sector. 

Welcoming the progress, Minister Bruton said:  “We want to have the best education and training service in Europe by 2026. State of the art facilities in our higher education institutions is key to reaching our goal. These 11 projects across 11 Institutes of Technology will significantly boost the capacity of the sector to meet national and regional skills needs and to cater for the growing numbers of students entering the higher education system.  Today’s announcement confirming both the scope of the projects and the teams of architects and engineers who will bring the projects through the planning process represents a significant programme milestone.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor commented,  “I am delighted to see the final scope and ambition of these projects. Capital investment is essential to enhancing the capacity and quality of the higher education system, and to delivering on the vision for future Technological Universities.  Eight of the eleven projects in the programme are in Institutes of Technology that are currently part of TU consortia.  I would like to congratulate the design teams on their appointments and look forward to seeing the first planning applications for these projects being submitted to the relevant local authorities before the end of this year.”

The 11 projects will be advanced in two bundles providing 75,000m2 additional academic and teaching space and 8,000 new student places. The planning and initial design for a bundle of six projects will be delivered by a consortium of architects led by Coady Architects (incorporating FCBS & BDP Architects), who will be joined on this design team by JV Tierney and Mott McDonald Engineers.

A consortium of architects led by Taylor Architects (incorporating HJ Lyons & Mullarkey Pedersen Architects), and supported by RPS and BDP Engineers, will bring the remaining bundle of five projects through the planning process. Procurement of a PPP operator for each bundle is expected to commence later this year.  The bundles will be subject to rigorous Value for Money tests to ensure suitability for procurement as PPPs before and during the tender process.

Notes for Editors:

The 11 projects, as set out in the table below, will be procured on behalf of the HEA and the Department of Education and Skills by the NDFA. They all have been and will continue to be the subject of ongoing technical appraisal and economic analysis to ensure value for money is achieved.  Value for money aspects will also continue to be monitored as projects are progressed, including updating economic appraisals where necessary, and undergoing the value for money tests that form part of PPP assessment. A project may be removed from the Programme if value for money requirements are not met.

The total floor area in new infrastructure to be delivered through the PPP programme will be in the region of 75,000m2.  Costs for each building will not be announced as is the norm in such a PPP procurement process.

The projects will facilitate an additional 8,000 new student places. These will be created primarily through the provision of new accommodation in the PPP buildings. However, in many cases, the provision of these buildings will free up space in existing buildings and allow for new student places there. It should also be noted that the new PPP buildings will also provide upgraded accommodation for existing students.

Note on Public Private Partnerships

A Public Private Partnership or a PPP is a contract between a public sector contracting authority and a private sector company (PPP Co.) for the provision of public works and/or services. Typically the State procures buildings under the form of an “availability based” PPP contract whereby the PPP Co. is responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of public buildings and facilities on land provided by the State.

In exchange for this, the State pays a “monthly availability payment”. The duration of the services phase of a PPP contract (and monthly availability payment) is typically 25 years. The State payment of the monthly availability payment is dependent on the building and facilities being maintained to an acceptable standard and the satisfactory provision of associated services by the PPP Co.

There are two operational PPP higher education buildings as well as one project in construction. The Department of Education and Skills has also used PPPs for the delivery of schools infrastructure.  In that context, there are also currently 27 operational PPP schools with 5 PPP schools and one further education building yet to be completed.


Table of Projects

Higher Education Institute Project Description Size Project Details
Higher Education PPP Programme Bundle 1
Cork Institute of Technology Learning Resource Centre 6,800 m2 The proposed project is the construction of a Learning Resource Centre which would accommodate learning, study, exhibition, engagement and entrepreneurial space. It would allow CIT to increase capacity across STEM, business and humanities subjects.