Athlone Institute of Technology is to benefit from the construction of a STEM building on campus following the announcement by Deputy Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, that funds will be afforded towards the construction of extensions at 11 third level institutions, creating space for 8,000 additional students.
The new STEM building at the prestigious third level facility will include science laboratories, lecture theatres and classrooms, with tender for the construction project to proceed with immediate effect.
Welcoming the news, Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael Senator, Micheal Carrigy, noted that the projects were being delivered under Project 2040.
“This investment recognises that education is central to achieving a strong, future-proofed economy, balanced across the regions, and a just society in which all citizens are enabled to fulfil their potential,” Senator Carrigy remarked.
Making the formal announcement, Minister Harris stated that the development was a “key milestone” in a very ambitious programme of investment in the higher education sector.
“Such investment has never been more important,” he said. “The higher education sector, and within that our new technological universities and our institutes of technology, have an essential role to play in driving recovery across Ireland’s regions and in preparing for the opportunities and challenges of a changing economy.
“The new infrastructure to be delivered under this programme will enhance the campus environment for students and staff, and support strengthened partnerships with industry. The buildings will have a strong focus on supporting practice-based learning, including laboratories, workshops and studios. They will also have significant flexibility to adapt to changing teaching and learning needs, and to support hybrid and remote learning.”
The bundles will be procured by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA ) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science as approving authority. The Higher Education Authority is the sponsoring agency for the programme.
As with other PPP projects in the education sector, the contract type envisaged is a Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM ) contract. The successful tenderer for each of the bundles will construct the buildings using private finance, and will then operate and maintain the buildings over a period of 25 years. Payment by the Department will be by way of monthly unitary charge payments over the 25 year operational period, which will start when construction has been completed.