€24m fund to open 3,000 new college places
Almost 3,000 extra college places will open over the next two years, in a €24m Government-funded move to produce more graduates for priority areas of the economy.
Colleges will receive a cash incentive to create the places across 138 undergraduate courses in 22 higher education institutions.
The so-called Human Capital Initiative (HCI) will involve an additional allocation of €2,500 over and above the usual funding for each place.
Some places will be available next autumn and the remainder in September 2021, and courses are predominantly in the science, engineering, ICT and construction fields.
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The additional capacity in third-level courses will also help to absorb the ongoing rise in school-leaver numbers.
The focus of HCI includes mitigating Brexit risks, promoting regional development, developing skills for high-productivity growth sectors and responding to digitalisation and the future world of work.
Universities and other colleges were invited to submit proposals for the scheme and among the areas of study given priority were computing, electronics and automation, building and civil engineering, environmental sciences and food processing.
Education Minister Joe McHugh said the investment was responding to demand for graduates in areas such as robotics and intelligent devices, digital healthcare, building services and renewable energy.
Junior Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor said they wanted to ensure that graduates were among the best prepared and equipped to meet Ireland's future challenges.