Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

197 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will sanction the proposed development at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick; if he will take account of the urgent needs of the college in view of the fact that it has had no new buildings for 25 years, has only a capacity for 800 students but has 2,300 full-time students and has to spend up to ?6,000 per day in rented accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19151/03]

A master plan setting out a framework for future development at Mary Immaculate College of Education was completed in 2001. My Department concurred with the basic thrust of the master plan and agreed to the appointment of a design team for a first phase of development at the college.

The first phase will provide a multi-purpose teaching hall – phase 1(a), a new auditorium – phase 1(b) and teaching space – phase 1(c). It will also include infrastructure works. Architectural planning on these buildings has commenced.

The funding allocation for 2003 is based primarily on legally enforceable contractual commitments and architectural planning of all third level projects will pause at the end of their current stage pending clarification of the future funding position.

I have decided that it is prudent to re-evaluate the overall position in relation to third level capital projects and establish priorities for future years. In this regard the Higher Education Authority, at my request, is undertaking a review of all capital projects in the third level sector to establish prioritisation and agree re-phasing in preparation for a building programme in 2004 and future years.

The authority has established a working group, and all relevant third level institutions including Mary Immaculate College have been invited to make submissions to this group on all their capital requirements. Decisions in respect of all third level institutions will be taken when the review is complete and the funding position for 2004 and the subsequent years is determined.