Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has welcomed the announcement of an additional €1.9 million for Waterford Institute of Technology announced by party colleague, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D. The funding is part of a package of €38 million being allocated 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
Senator Cummins said “this devolved grant forms part of the government's ongoing investment in the higher education sector under Project Ireland 2040 and is particularly welcome as many students return to campus for the first time in well over a year. I have no doubt that the team at WIT will put the money to very good use in carrying out the necessary minor works and equipment upgrades across their campuses over the coming year.
He added “This €1.9 million is in addition to the €269,020 which was provided to WIT earlier this year to support the purchase and lending of laptops to students who did not have the resources to acquire a device themselves. This was a very important support throughout Covid-19 when learning was exclusively online, but access to digital equipment is now a necessity at all times and I’m delighted that higher education institutions will be able to use the devolved capital grant to procure additional laptops where they are required.
As was the case last year, laptops procured to support disadvantaged students will be distributed through targeted lending schemes run by the higher education institutions themselves. 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.