Third-level colleges will open almost 3,000 places extra places 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 new places, which will cross 138 full-time undergraduate courses in 22 higher education institutions.
The so-called Human Capital Initiative (HCI) will involve an additional allocation of €2,500 for each extra place, over and above the usual funding.
Some new places will be available next autumn and the remainder in September 2021, and courses are predominantly in the science, engineering, ICT, and construction fields.
The additional capacity on third-level courses will help to absorb the ongoing increase in school-leaver numbers.
The focus of HCI includes mitigating Brexit risks, promoting regional development, developing skills needed 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.
While today’s announcement covers undergraduate courses two other pillars of the HCI will fund graduate conversion programmes and on supporting innovation and agility in teaching and learning .
Announcing the undergraduate places today, Education Minister Joe McHugh said the investment was responding the demand for graduates in areas such as robotics and intelligent devices, digital healthcare, building services and renewable energy.
He said the investment was a key part of the Government’s strategy, under Future Jobs Ireland.
Junior Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the current generation would cope with more complex problems than any before them, and she was determined that we will continue to develop our programmes and work with enterprise to ensure that our graduates are among the best prepared and equipped to meet our future challenges.