As Students Return to Campus, Minister Harris Announces €1.5 Million for Capital Works and Equipment in IT Sligo

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Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo) welcomes the allocation of funding of over €1.5 million by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D., as part of an additional €38 million for higher education institutions for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

The devolved capital grant allocation will facilitate higher institutions to address a number of key capital investment priorities including: 

  • Minor works and equipment needs to support safe campus reopening 
  • Procurement of additional ICT devices – including laptops – to support disadvantaged students who have difficulty in accessing a suitable device for their studies 
  • Investments in equipment and infrastructure that are required to support the creation of additional student places, given the exceptional circumstances facing the Leaving Cert class of 2021 
  • General ICT and equipment-related upgrades 
  • Health and safety works, and other building upgrades 
  • Investments to support universal access 
  • Energy efficiency and decarbonisation-related upgrades 

The funding forms part of ongoing investment in the higher education sector under Project Ireland 2040.  Funding will be provided through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).  

Minister Harris said: “Today, students across the country will begin to return to colleges for the first time in 19 months. It is an incredibly exciting but I am sure nervous time for many. 

“I am very pleased to announce a significant devolved capital grant for the higher education sector to support a range of capital priorities. The grant funding will also help facilitate the safe and very welcome return of students to campus-based learning and will allow higher education institutions to carry out necessary minor works and equipment upgrades across their estates over the coming year. 

Welcoming the announcement, President of IT Sligo Dr Brendan McCormack said:  “This funding will greatly assist in the safe return of students on campus and will help level the playing field in access to technology to those students most in need. This will also help in the safe delivery of education to all.” 

Minister Harris added: “The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the issue of digital inequity.  In response to this, I announced funding last year for the procurement of laptops to lend to students who did not have the resources to acquire a device themselves.  I am pleased that this initiative will continue into the coming academic year, and higher education institutions will be able to use the devolved capital grant to procure additional laptops where they are required.   

 “The flexible funding through the devolved capital grant complements other targeted building projects in the sector which are being advanced under Project Ireland 2040.” 

As was the case last year, laptops procured to support disadvantaged students will be distributed through targeted lending schemes run by higher education institutions. This will be overseen by Access Offices in the individual institutions. Any students who consider they might be eligible to receive a device should contact their Access Office for application details. 

The scheme will be primarily aimed at first-year students but it is open to anyone to seek support. Last year, over 8,000 laptops were distributed to higher education students. 

Previous allocations under the Devolved Capital Grant have had a significant positive impact on-campus development, facilitating initiatives such as upgrading of laboratories, replacement of obsolete ICT equipment, installation of energy-efficient lighting, and repurposing of existing spaces in line with the needs of students and staff.