Student Accommodation

Questions (396, 409)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

396. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science when all the students who paid for private rented accommodation while attending third level education from March to June 2020 will be reimbursed (details supplied). [2284/21]

View answer

Denis Naughten

Question:

409. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if third level institutions will provide rent refunds to students in on-campus accommodation whose courses are now being delivered online for the 2020-21 academic year; if he has had discussions with the third-level institutions on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2876/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 396 and 409 together.

I am conscious of the challenges faced by students regarding student accommodation this year due to financial pressures and the blended learning format of the 2020/21 academic year. Throughout the last number of months my Department has been engaging with representatives from the higher education sector to address the challenges faced by students in this difficult time. My Department, in consultation with these key stakeholders will continue to monitor the situation relating to student accommodation closely.

Refund or cancellation policies in student accommodation should be set out in the license agreement signed at the beginning of the academic year. In the first instance students should engage with their accommodation provider to see if an arrangement can be reached in regard to a refund.

If this is not possible, under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 students have access to the Dispute Resolution Services of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

I have asked our higher education institutions, where they have accommodation, to try to show flexibility in terms of its use for the coming academic year, as well as flexibility with regard to cancellations and refunds. All seven universities have confirmed that students who choose to vacate their university-owned accommodation early will receive pro-rata refunds. The exact details of these refunds vary by institution, and students are encouraged to engage with their university directly on this manner. I would hope that private providers will show the same flexibility, however it is not within the my remit to issue instruction in relation to the private rental market.

Third Level Education

Questions (397)

Holly Cairns

Question:

397. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his attention has been drawn to a pledge by a union (details supplied). [2379/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The USI Education for All Campaign covers a wide range of issues including public financing of higher education and student accommodation on which I as Minister and my Department are actively engaging with USI and relevant stakeholders in higher education.

Throughout the last number of months my Department has been engaging with sectoral representatives including the USI to address the challenges faced by students in this difficult time. I will continue to liaise with the USI and have met regularly with the President of the USI including specifically in relation to the USI's Education for All Campaign and most recently on 11th January to discuss a range of issues of concern to students.

For further details of responses in relation to a number of the issues comprehended by the USI campaign I refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ 44827 given in the House on 13 January 2021.

Specific issues comprehended in the USI Education for All Campaign will continue to be considered by the Department and, where appropriate, advanced and resourced in the context of ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders in higher education and against the backdrop of significant cumulative pressures on the public finances at this time.

In the broader related context as we move forward in our overall response to the pandemic, I also announced last week that a working group will be established by my Department and chaired by USI which is dedicated to identifying, refining and implementing strategies to enhance learner engagement and student wellbeing.

Student Accommodation

Questions (398, 399)

Holly Cairns

Question:

398. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science his views on working with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to develop a publicly financed student accommodation building strategy and charter for student tenant rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2380/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

399. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science his views on developing a publicly financed student accommodation building strategy and charter for student tenant rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2382/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 398 and 399 together.

The National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) was published in 2017 and is designed to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) by reducing planning barriers for public and private sector developers of student accommodation and seeking to address financing barriers for our higher education institutions. The aim is to reduce the cost to the student by ensuring that there is a sufficient level of accommodation to meet future demand. The target as set out in Rebuilding Ireland and the NSAS is the provision of 7,000 bed spaces by end 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional PBSA beds by 2024. The 2019 target has been surpassed, with 8,346 bed spaces completed by the end of the year.

Following significant rent increases in two privately run PBSA complexes in 2018, the Department of Education and Skills worked in close co-operation with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to pass the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019. The Act contains provisions designed to ensure that students residing in student-specific accommodation in Rent Pressure Zones will not see rent increases of more than 4% per annum. Registered students and licensors may also now avail of the dispute resolution facilities provided by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The RTB has a dedicated section on their website - https://www.rtb.ie/renting-in-college - providing advice to student renters.

Students who are renting private accommodation under a lease are entitled to the same legal protections as any other tenant. Their tenant rights are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act (2004, as amended).

Responding to student accommodation issues is a significant matter of concern for myself and for my colleague the Minister for Housing, Local Government and I have asked my Department to continue to engage with his officials to monitor and report to me on developments in the student accommodation sector.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (400)

Holly Cairns

Question:

400. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if employees of his Department have received Covid-19 vaccines due to their role in the Department; if so, the rationale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2402/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The administration of the vaccine and prioritisation of vulnerable or essential groups is a matter for the Health Service Executive. As the Deputy will be aware, the Strategy for the vaccine was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Qualifications Recognition

Questions (401)

David Cullinane

Question:

401. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if, for employment purposes, there is a recognised difference between BA honours and higher diplomas; his views on whether they should be treated as equivalent, given they are both level 8 degrees under the national framework of qualifications, NFQ; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2428/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) has responsibility to develop, promote and maintain the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ is a framework through which learning achievements may be measured and related to each other in a coherent way. Qualifications are organised within the NFQ based on their level of knowledge, skill and competence on a scale from 1-10. It allows for quality assurance, international comparison and clarification for learners on their qualification.

An Honours Bachelor Degree is classed as a Level 8 on the NFQ. This is normally awarded following completion of a programme of 3 to 4 years duration (180-240 ECTS credits).

A Higher Diploma is also classed as a Level 8 on the NFQ. This is normally awarded following completion of a programme of one year (60 ECTS credits). Entry to a programme leading to a Higher Diploma is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees but can also be for holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees. It is of note that the Higher Diploma is typically in a different field of learning than the initial award.

While both categories of qualification are at Level 8 on the NFQ, they may offer differing skill sets and competencies to graduates based on their programme of choice and field of study. It is a matter for employers to determine the learning outcomes, skills and competencies which would align with their employment requirements.

Third Level Education

Questions (402, 404)

Noel Grealish

Question:

402. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will consider reducing the 800-hour practice placement requirement, given that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for social care and other students to secure unpaid practice placements in social care and other appropriate settings; if he will consider a partial refund of fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2611/21]

View answer

Michael Ring

Question:

404. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will introduce a partial refund of fees to students whose courses are 100% online and reduce the requirement for 800 placement hours for college courses during the Covid-19 pandemic (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2701/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 402 and 404 together.

In considering the issue of fees, it is important to note that the State currently provides very substantial financial support to undergraduate students in higher education towards the cost of their studies. This support has played a very significant role in facilitating access to and growth in higher education. What was previously the preserve of a relatively small proportion of the school leaving population is now much more widely available, as reflected in the current transfer rate from second to third level.

This commitment is demonstrated through the Free Fees Schemes under which the Exchequer currently contributes €340m to meeting the tuition fee costs of eligible undergraduate students in higher education. In addition, the Exchequer pays the student contribution of €3,000 per annum in full or part, through SUSI, for approximately 44% of students at a cost of over €180m.

Under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID all further and higher education institutions will deliver the majority of their classes online with only essential activities held on site. While I appreciate that this is disappointing for students who had hoped to have as much time on campus as possible, these measures were necessary to support halting the spread of the Coronavirus.

I am of course very conscious of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students. In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students, financial assistance will be provided in academic year 202/21 to all students who avail of SUSI grants and to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state.

Under this initiative students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive a €250 top-up in their grant and students who do not avail of the grant but attend publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state can reduce by €250 any outstanding student contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution.

Additionally Budget 2021 provides further funding to enhance SUSI grant supports for post-grads and increase support for the PATH access initiative. In July I announced a range of additional student supports including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund, and a €15 million technology fund for devices for students.

The combined impact of these supports and initiatives highlight the strength of the Government's commitment to supporting students in meeting the costs of third level education.

In terms of student placements, following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, significant work has been undertaken by a stakeholder group chaired by the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and including the representative bodies of education providers to address issues relating to the maintenance of the quality and standards of teaching and learning, assessment and qualifications. This group has focused on the implementation of alternative arrangements, where appropriate and necessary, to meet both these standards and, where applicable, the educational accreditation criteria established by Professional Recognition Bodies (PRBs).

In the case of Social Care, the awards standards in place reflect the accreditation criteria and placement requirements that have been set out by CORU, Ireland's multi-profession Health and Social Care Regulator and consequently the relevant PRB for this profession. QQI has facilitated engagement between members of the stakeholders group and CORU, in parallel to direct engagements between CORU and individual education providers, to ensure that necessary arrangements are in place to maintain standards of education and training in this area so that students can progress e.g. from second year into third year or, where relevant, graduate with the relevant professional competencies that have been set out by CORU. Students should engage directly with their education provider for further information on the arrangements being implemented for their particular year and course.

Student Universal Support Ireland

Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 402.

Questions (403)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

403. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will review the SUSI arrangements in respect of orphans to allow them attend higher education programmes in private colleges in which some specialist programmes may not be listed by the Central Applications Office, CAO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2661/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Under the Department's student grant scheme, eligible candidates may receive funding provided they are attending an approved course at an approved institution as defined in the scheme. The definition of an approved institution is set out in Section 7 of the Student Support Act 2011 and Regulation 3 of the Student Support Regulations 2020.

In the context of scarce resources, the Department prioritises grants to students attending recognised colleges ahead of private fee paying colleges. It is open to higher education institutions that operate on a 'for profit' basis to use their own resources to provide financial supports to any of their students that they consider to be in particular need.

In the context of a person re-educating, Springboard is a specific initiative that strategically targets funding of free part-time higher education courses to enable unemployed people, returners (formerly referred to as homemakers) and those in employment to upskill or reskill in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities. The courses, which are at Level 6 (Higher Certificate) to Level 9 (Master's Degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications, are being delivered in public and private higher education providers around the country. Further information may be obtained from the website https://springboardcourses.ie/

Tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non-EU countries. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student's local Tax office or from the Revenue Commissioners website www.revenue.ie

Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 402.

Third Level Fees

Questions (405)

Michael Lowry

Question:

405. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if third level students who did not qualify for free fees will receive a refund of their student contribution fees in view of the fact that the majority of students have been forced to move to online learning since the start of the academic year due to Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2745/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

In considering this issue, it is important to note that the State currently provides very substantial financial support to undergraduate students in higher education towards the cost of their studies. This support has played a very significant role in facilitating access to and growth in higher education. What was previously the preserve of a relatively small proportion of the school leaving population is now much more widely available, as reflected in the current transfer rate from second to third level.

This commitment is demonstrated through the Free Fees Schemes under which the Exchequer currently contributes €340m to meeting the tuition fee costs of eligible undergraduate students in higher education. In addition, the Exchequer pays the student contribution of €3,000 per annum in full or part, through SUSI, for approximately 44% of students at a cost of over €180m.

Under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID all further and higher education institutions will deliver the majority of their classes online with only essential activities held on site. While I appreciate that this is disappointing for students who had hoped to have as much time on campus as possible, these measures were necessary to support halting the spread of the Coronavirus.

I am of course very conscious of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students. In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students, financial assistance will be provided in academic year 202/21 to all students who avail of SUSI grants and to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state.

Under this initiative students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive a €250 top-up in their grant and students who do not avail of the grant but attend publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state can reduce by €250 any outstanding student contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution.

Additionally Budget 2021 provides further funding to enhance SUSI grant supports for post-grads and increase support for the PATH access initiative. In July I announced a range of additional student supports including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund, and a €15 million technology fund for devices for students.

The combined impact of these supports and initiatives highlight the strength of the Government's commitment to supporting students in meeting the costs of third level education.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (406)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

406. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the action he is taking to increase apprenticeships and expand the base of skilled construction workers to ensure that there will be a sufficient construction workforce to meet the need to construct at least 33,000 homes per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2780/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Education and training relevant to skills needs in the construction sector is delivered through ongoing apprenticeship and non-apprenticeship further and higher education and training as well as through specific activation programmes such as Springboard, the Human Capital Initiative and Skillnet Ireland.

Government has moved to ameliorate the impacts of Covid-19 on the continued skills pipeline. Measures include the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme which provides an employer grant of €3,000 payable over two years to support employers who take on and retain apprentices. Initially funded through the July Jobs Stimulus, the payment has been extended to include employers who take on apprentices until mid-2021.

Under the July Jobs Stimulus €500,000 was also allocated to support the expansion of skills development for the National Retrofitting Programme and 2,000 additional places were also funded across Springboard and the Human Capital Pillar 1. €8m has been allocated in 2021 to support retrofit specific skills which will provide for up to 500 places on new specialist retrofitting training courses targeted towards unemployed persons in addition to the expected increase of 400 places in programmes facilitating upskilling of experienced construction professionals. This will increase the number of learners in retrofit specific programmes to over 1,500 per annum. A retrofitting centre of excellence is already in place under Waterford, Wexford Education and Training Board (ETB) while a further four ETBs are planning to have centres of excellence up and running in the first quarter of 2021.

1,493 places are being provided through 34 Springboard courses and 14 courses funded under Pillar 1 of the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) in construction related areas. Skillnet Ireland also supports the construction sector through two national Construction-specific Skillnet training networks, as well as through multiple regional Skillnet training networks that assist construction businesses located in their respective regions.

In further education and training, approximately 6,256 beneficiaries participated in SOLAS-funded construction related further education and training programmes provided by ETBs under the ‘Built Environment’ skills cluster in 2019. Construction traineeship programs also provide skills for the construction industry in areas such as Construction Skills for Employment; Construction Operative with Tickets and Overhead Lines Operative.

As a demand driven programme, the number of apprentice placements is determined by employers within the construction sector. In recent years, annual intake in construction related apprenticeships has steadily been increasing, from a low of 650 in 2010 to 3,499 in 2019. The impact of Covid-19 and the closure of the construction sector in March 2020 impacted heavily on apprentice registrations in the first half of 2020. Registrations recovered in the second half of the year with the support of the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, reaching a total of 3,104 registrations on construction related apprenticeships by year end.

Among the 59 apprenticeships currently available at levels 5-10 on the National Framework of qualifications, the 25 traditional craft apprenticeships at level 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications have been supplemented by new apprenticeships in geo-drilling (Level 6), with programmes in scaffolding (level 5), roofing and cladding (level 5) and advanced quantity surveying (Level 9) due to launch in 2021. In accordance with the Programme for Government, a new Action Plan for Apprenticeship is in development to cover the period 2021-2025. It will set out new ways of structuring, funding, and promoting apprenticeships with a target of 10,000 apprenticeship registrations per annum by 2025 and is expected to be delivered shortly.

Science Foundation Ireland

Questions (407)

Mark Ward

Question:

407. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the location of each Science Foundation Ireland research centre; the amount of funding allocated to each such centre in 2019 and 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2808/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

SFI Research Centres are hosted at one Higher Education Institute. The host institute has responsibility for the administration of the award. However, each Centre has a number of academic partners with researchers at those partner institutes heavily involved in the Centre’s research. The budget assigned to the central award flows to the relevant partner Universities/Institutes of Technology/Technological Universities all around the country.

SFI Research Centres are awarded through the SFI Research Centres programme. Awards are made on a multi annual basis with each SFI Research Centre Award made for a period of 6 years. The figures presented reflect the payments made to the SFI Research Centres in 2019 and 2020. They do not reflect the value of the full SFI Research Centre programme awards made to each Centre. In addition, each SFI Research Centre has been successful in securing further research funding awards from SFI through a range of funding schemes. The figures presented here relate to payments against the core SFI Research Centre Programme award only.

Research Centre

Host Research Body

2019 Budget Allocation

2020 Budget Allocation

ADAPT, SFI Research Centre for Digital Media Technology

Trinity College Dublin

4,317,719.00

1,978,614.98

AMBER, SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research

Trinity College Dublin

4,296,888.34

11,177,411.48

APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre

University College Cork

6,290,125.62

7,662,140.75

BiOrbic, SFI Bioeconomy Research Centre

University College Dublin

1,744,833.50

3,237,706.00

Confirm, SFI Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing

University of Limerick

2,970,377.00

6,645,330.00

Connect, SFI Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications

Trinity College Dublin

6,385,233.70

3,959,558.17

CÚRAM, SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices

National University of Ireland, Galway

4,822,074.90

5,563,936

FutureNeuro, SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

1,795,993.00

1,769,721.00

iCRAG, SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences

University College Dublin

3,235,518.50

3,733,282.00

I-FORM, SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing

University College Dublin

2,833,820.00

3,600,271.00

Insight, SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics

National University of Ireland, Galway

9,247,179

5,919,740

IPIC, SFI Research Centre

Tyndall National Institute

3,145,492

4,715,555.00

Lero, SFI Research Centre for Software

University of Limerick

4,238,612.28

7,336,053.00

MaREI, SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine

University College Cork

3,224,553.00

1,760,761.00

SSPC, SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals

University of Limerick

4,961,133.00

5,897,528.00

VistaMilk, SFI Research Centre for Digitalising Dairy Production and Processing

Teagasc, Fermoy, Co. Cork

0

5,365,935.00

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 409 answered with Question No. 396.

Questions (408)

Denis Naughten

Question:

408. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will introduce a mechanism for fourth year student nurses not in receipt of SUSI to receive the €250 refund in view of the fact that they will not be on campus in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2875/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students the Government is providing financial assistance in this academic year 2020/21 to all SUSI eligible students and to EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state.

Under this initiative students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive a €250 top-up in their grant. Full time EU Students students who do not avail of the grant but attend publicly funded Higher Education Institutions in the state can reduce by €250 any outstanding student contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution. In a small number of cases, alternative arrangements will be made for the payment of the monies to students at the discretion of institution.

These options are designed to ensure students who are not in receipt of SUSI benefit from the measure. It is also the intention that these address circumstances where students are in final year, have paid their contribution fee and may not be on campus, as in the case of final year student nurses on clinical placement. Institutions are communicating directly with students on arrangements for providing the allocation.

Question No. 409 answered with Question No. 396.

Institutes of Technology

Questions (410)

Alan Dillon

Question:

410. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will provide information and clarity on a timeline and programme of engagement with personnel from the GMIT Mayo campus on the independent working group report. [2882/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

As the Deputy is aware a Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) Working Group was established in March 2017. The key objective of this group was to develop a plan to develop a sustainable future for the Mayo Campus arising from concerns about the financial viability of the campus.

As recently highlighted by GMIT the creation of a Technological University by the Connaught Ulster Alliance (CUA) will provide enormous opportunities for all stakeholders in the region, including those in Mayo. The strategic re-positioning of GMIT now underway in the context of the work by CUA which encompasses the developments planned for the Mayo Campus will help ensure its long-term sustainability and future development.

I understand GMIT, following engagement with Mayo campus staff over an extended period is undertaking a strategic reorganisation process as part a critical element of the transformation process required to realise these benefits from TU designation. This reorganisation includes the proposed establishment of a new academic School for GMIT, led from the focused expertise that has been quietly but progressively growing at the Mayo campus and that GMIT have several new Governing Body members from the business community in Mayo who are enthusiastic and positive about the direction being taken.

It is vital for GMIT and the future TU to offer an integrated service to all stakeholders working across the region and acting as one. All GMIT schools are intended to have a GMIT wide remit including Mayo, Galway and beyond.

As you aware from the virtual meeting you attended with the GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn and myself in October, Dr. Flynn confirmed this to be the case.

It is my understanding that in Q4 2020 there has been:

- communication with staff as to the proposed realignment of programmes within existing academic structures of GMIT

- Meeting of President and several senior GMIT staff with Mayo Co. Co. to discuss GMIT input to the Mayo Economic Recovery Plan

- Completion of works on roof and building fabric on the Castlebar campus

The Mid Term Review report of the independent assessor will be presented to the HEA’s Finance and Governance Committee by the end of Q1 2021. Once I receive further update from the HEA following this presentation I intend to arrange a meeting with Oireachtas members from the region to discuss the future strategies for the campus.