Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (255)

Tony McLoughlin


255. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the importance of sufficient canteen facilities being made available to third-level students undertaking courses; his further views on whether the service of food is a vital welfare issue for students; if his attention has been drawn to a situation (details supplied); the steps he will take to help resolve same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44977/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Higher education institutions are autonomous institutions and their governance and day-to-day management, including the operation of canteen services are matters for which the Governing Bodies and the management of the relevant institutions are responsible.

Notwithstanding the above, my Department has been advised by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) that a review of the canteen service in St. Angela’s College was commissioned by the Audit Committee in early 2019. The review was carried out by a local Auditing Firm/Catering Business Manager. The Audit Committee of the College met on the 26th of April and considered the findings and recommendations from this review. Financial issues in the operation of the service were key factors in the recommendations of the review. Additionally the review identified the need for changes to service for both Staff and Students.

The report included a plan to restructure and implement new services so that it would operate as a viable business operation.

The following actions were subsequently approved by the Board of Directors of the College. The Canteen reopened in September with a revised reduced offering which is being regularly updated. It should be noted that this is Phase 1 of the new plan and is centred on increasing footfall, income generation and future sustainability of the service.

The operation of the Canteen is under weekly review and it is expected that Phase 2 of the project will be implemented once sufficient footfall and revenue projections suggest that this is a viable and sustainable operation going forward. This phase will provide further enhancements to the offerings, the canteen space itself and the opening hours which will benefit both students and staff.

Additionally, proposals in relation to future capital investment in St Angela’s are currently being developed by for consideration by the HEA and the Department of Education and Skills.