I thank Deputy Shanahan for his question. I acknowledge that we had a good meeting recently in regard to the south east and are due another one. I have not forgotten that.
It is a priority for my Department to support higher education institutions in their critical role as drivers of social and economic development in their regions. Within this overall context, the creation of technological universities represents a radical reconfiguration of the higher education landscape that will deliver significant benefits for regional development. That is really our entire purpose. It will be achieved through a strong focus on industry linkages, higher education access, and research-informed teaching and learning excellence.
The Deputy has raised concerns specifically in regard to capital investment in the south east, which I would like to address. From 2008 to 2019, some €996 million was provided in capital funding across the higher education sector, of which 4% was allocated to the south-east region. Currently, the two higher education institutions in the region, Waterford Institute of Technology, WIT, and Institute of Technology Carlow, which together have formed the technological university for the south-east consortium, account for 7% of the national higher education student population. I presume the 10% figure to which the Deputy referred relates to primary and secondary level students. It is clear, therefore, that many young people are leaving the south-east region when they go on to higher education, which has knock-on impacts for the region's growth and development. This needs to be addressed, including by means of the greatly enhanced opportunities which technological university status will provide and through the increased capital investment that will be required to support the realisation of those opportunities.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that there are two major Exchequer-funded projects in the pipeline that will significantly enhance higher education infrastructure in the south east and support the development of the new technological university. An engineering, ICT and teaching building is planned for the WIT campus, the largest of all the projects in the entire country under the higher education public private partnership programme, PPP. A science and health building is planned for IT Carlow under the same programme. My Department is also engaging actively with both institutions regarding their future development plans, including expansion within the context of the planned technological university.