Schools Establishment

Ceisteanna (140)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

140. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the proposed location of the new second level Educate Together school for Galway city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

The announcement included a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2019 to serve the Galway City and Oranmore school planning areas as a regional solution and patronage of the new school was awarded to Educate Together in October 2018. My Department has identified East Galway City as the preferred location for the school in order to best serve the combined school planning areas.

On that basis, the school will open in September 2019 in suitable interim accommodation in the Merlin Park area. In relation to the permanent school site, my Department is examining all potential suitable site options including zoned school sites. A decision will then be made as part of the site acquisition process in relation to an appropriate site for the school to which the Deputy refers and this will be confirmed at a later date.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (141)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

141. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage the building project at a school (details supplied) is at; and the timeframe for construction to commence at the school. [11708/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning - Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design.

The Stage 2(b) report was submitted to my Department in late September 2018 and following an initial review was deemed incomplete. A revised Stage 2(b) report which has been submitted to my Department in late January 2019 is currently under review.

Upon review of the revised Stage 2(b) report my Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of this project at that time.

Home School Community Liaison Scheme

Ceisteanna (142)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

142. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount it would cost in a full year if 75 additional rural co-ordinator posts under the home school liaison services were provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11727/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Currently, all DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the HSCL Scheme, which serves 539 schools. The scheme is delivered by 416 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.

The impact of socio-economic factors on educational outcomes can be different between urban and rural settings and the HSCL scheme takes account of that. While urban and rural disadvantage share many characteristics, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions, the evidence suggests that disadvantage in a rural context does not have the same impact on educational performance.

My Department's objective in implementing DEIS Plan 2017 is to have the maximum possible impact on providing opportunities for students most at risk of disadvantage. To achieve this, additional resources must be targeted as closely as possible at those students with the greatest need in terms of concentrated levels of disadvantage.

The Deputy may wish to note that Rural DEIS primary schools continue to be supported through the DEIS programme with a range of additional supports, including grant aid in the form of a DEIS grant, enhanced book grant, access to the DEASP School Meals Programme and priority access for teachers to a range of professional development programmes as well as the Incredible Years and Friends programmes.

My Department has no plans at present to extend the HSCL scheme to Rural DEIS schools as part of the DEIS programme. It is not possible to give a definitive cost to extend to 75 additional posts, since it is dependent upon a primary or post primary teachers' particular point on the salary scale upon appointment to the role.

Commissions of Inquiry

Ceisteanna (143)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

143. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the Information Commissioner and Data Protection Commissioner have been consulted with regard to proposed legislation (details supplied) to seal records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee for 75 years; if so, the advice provided by each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11760/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The recently published Retention of Records Bill 2019 represents a very important measure in that it provides for the retention of the records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee. I must stress that under the legislation establishing these bodies the bulk of their records would, on the dissolution of those bodies, fall to be destroyed. The records held by these bodies represent the personal testimony and stories of many survivors of residential institutional child abuse and related papers. I believe that these records should not be destroyed both to ensure that future generations will be aware of and understand what happened and out of respect to the victims who came forward. Therefore, if the Bill is enacted these highly sensitive records will be retained.

The redress bodies operated under stringent confidentiality requirements as laid down in statute and persons engaged with them on that basis. The proposals in the Bill strike a balance between those requirements and the need to preserve these historically important records.

The proposals contained in the Bill were the subject of normal consultations with other Government departments both at the time the General Scheme of the Bill was finalised in early 2015 and more recently when the text of the Bill was approved for publication. Neither the Information Commissioner nor the Data Protection Commissioner was consulted directly by my officials as part of that process as that would be a matter for the relevant departments. However I can confirm that informal discussions took place with the Data Protection Commissioner.

I should point out that the legislation under which the three bodies currently operate restricts the application of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts and the Data Protection Act. The Bill proposes to continue that dis-application in the case of the Freedom of Information Act. If the Bill is enacted and the records are transferred to the National Archives, further processing will be for archiving purposes and the provisions of section 61 of the Data Protection Act 2018 will therefore apply.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (144, 145)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

144. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the allocation of special education teaching support for a school (details supplied) will be reassessed on the grounds of exceptional circumstances in order to provide the staff with the best possible platform to adequately cater for a number of students; the reason the allocation of special education teaching support hours for the school has not been increased but remain the same despite an increase in the number of children who require such specialised support since the introduction of the new allocation of hours for pupils with additional needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

145. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that the current system for seeking an appeal or review of special education teaching support hours is offering schools, principals and boards of management an adequate forum from which they can communicate concerns, seek meaningful reviews or appeals and engage with his Department on behalf of students with complex needs who may require additional supports; if he is further satisfied that the system affords an appropriate level of credence to the principals who care for vulnerable children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 145 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools set out details of a new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.

DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools also provide details of how the allocations are being updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.

All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019.

As the re profiling occurred, some schools have gained additional allocations, where the profile indicator data indicates these schools have additional needs. Some schools received slightly reduced allocations, where the data indicates less need, and some schools maintained their existing allocations.

The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

Under the allocation model, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support based on their school profile.

The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fair allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the level of need in each school.

Schools are front loaded with resources, based on each school’s profile. The allocations to schools include provision to support all pupils in the schools, including where a child receives a diagnosis after the allocation is received by a school, or where there are newly enrolling pupils to the school.

Both my Department and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are committed to ensuring that all schools are treated equally and fairly in the manner in which their school profiles have been calculated.

Accordingly, a number of review processes have been put in place to support schools and to offer them a mechanism to have their special education teaching support hours reviewed.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will publish details of an appeal process for the 2019 allocation process for schools in the coming days.

Schools will be advised that this appeal will consider circumstances where schools considered that their school profile was calculated incorrectly, using the data set out in DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019. An appeal can be submitted for a review of the information used and of the calculation of the allocation.

A second process will be put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process e.g. a developing school where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2019/20 school year.

Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts in accordance with these criteria will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

Finally, it is acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the appeals process, or allocations for developing school status.

These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.

Once the appeal process has concluded, a further process will be available where schools can seek a review of their allocations including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.

I am satisfied that there are therefore in place a number of processes which can review the special education teacher allocation for schools where necessary, including for the school referred to by the Deputy in his question.

This Government is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

There are currently over 13,400 special education teachers in schools, an increase of 37% since 2011.

There are now more special education teachers in schools now than we have ever had previously.

The very significant levels of additional provision we have made in recent years to provide additional Special Education Teachers means that all schools are resourced to provide for the special educational needs of children in their schools.

Technological Universities Data

Ceisteanna (146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

146. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name and location of technological universities nationally; and the institutes of technology which merged to form these technological universities. [11824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

147. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of institutes of technology which are in the process of applying to become technological universities; and the location of each. [11825/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

148. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of institutes of technology that have not applied to become technological universities. [11826/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

149. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an institute of technology must merge with another institute to gain technological university status; and if so, the reason therefor. [11827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

150. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there will be negative impacts for institutes of technology which do not become technological universities. [11828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

151. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an institute of technology (details supplied) has applied to become a technological university; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11829/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 to 151, inclusive, together.

On 1 January 2019 the first technological university (TU) in the State, Technological University Dublin, which formerly comprised Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght, was established under the Technological Universities Act 2018. This can be regarded as a landmark date in the evolution of Irish higher education. With some 28,000 students, Technological University Dublin became the largest HEI in the State. TU Dublin’s main campuses are located in Grangegorman, Tallaght and Blanchardstown.

On 12 February 2019 the Munster Technological University consortium, comprising Cork IT and IT Tralee, submitted an application to the Minister for Education and Skills seeking TU status under the 2018 Act. The relevant legislative procedures under the Act have commenced in relation to the assessment and decision- making process in relation to this application.

There are two other consortia of IoTs working to develop TU proposals. These are the Technological University for South East Ireland consortium, comprising Waterford IT and IT Carlow, and the Connaught Ulster Alliance, comprising IT Sligo, Galway Mayo IT and Letterkenny IT. These consortia are understood to be working toward the submission of applications for TU designation under the 2018 Act in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

In policy terms the National Strategy for Education to 2030 recommended consolidation within the Institute of Technology sector and a pathway of evolution for consolidated institutes of technology (IoTs) to allow them to demonstrate significant progress against stated performance criteria and to become multi-campus technological universities.

The National Strategy states that smaller, stand-alone institutions such as individual IoTs lack the scale required to deliver necessary advances in quality and efficiency. Universities and IoTs are encouraged to work together collaboratively in regional clusters. Smaller publicly funded institutions are encouraged to align with or be incorporated into institutions of sufficient scale to enable quality and efficiency objectives to be met such as is the case in the area of Initial Teacher Education provision.

The Programme for Government supports the creation of technological universities. These regional higher education institutions will have greater links to industry and will have an enormous impact on the capacity to create and retain jobs in regions. Government will prioritise those institutions which have clear ambitions and plans for the furthering of industry-relevant technological research and education.

The Technological Universities Act 2018 which was signed into law on 19 March 2018 provides the legal framework underpinning the process for establishment by two or more IoTs as a TU subject to a decision-making process contingent on the meeting of specified eligibility criteria and including assessment by an international advisory panel. The 2018 Act also sets out the functions and governance requirements for these new HEIs.

In accordance with National Strategy recommendations, Section 29 of the 2018 Act provides for the application jointly by two or more institutes to the Minister of Education and Skills for an order seeking designation as a technological university. Section 38 of the Act provides that an institution and an established technological university may also apply to the Minister for such an order.

The Government has provided the enabling legislation in the Technological Universities Act 2018 for two or more IoTs to come together to seek TU status. Government also continues to support those consortia currently seeking to achieve such status under the legislation in terms of significant Exchequer co-funding. The potential benefits of becoming a successful TU are significant in terms of increased reach, international recognition, research capacity building, FDI attraction, skills retention and creation, regional development, enhanced staff and student experience and opportunities and socio-economic progression. The merging of institutes of technology will create institutions of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to maximise those benefits and attract greater investment.

TUs will be distinguished by a mission and ethos that is aligned and consistent with the current mission and focus of IoTs with an emphasis on programmes at Levels 6 to 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), industry focused research and the development and use of new knowledge through industry-focused research. However, TUs will also offer post-graduate programmes at Levels 9 and 10 on the NFQ.

TUs will help retain talent in the regions by strengthening the offer available to students who will be able to continue to masters and postgraduate level, including PhDs. Larger management and academic teams permitted by the merger of institutions will increase institutional capacity and will facilitate enhanced performance in areas such as winning research funding.

TUs will also be expected to play a pivotal role in facilitating access and progression particularly through relationships with the further education and training sector. The presence of a technological university in a region, with a specific mandate for promoting regional development, will have a transformative effect on local and regional communities.

By creating institutions of increased scale and capacity, multi-campus TUs will bring greater social and economic benefits to their regions through a strengthened role in research and innovation and the delivery of a broad range of high quality education and training in each of their campuses. It is clear from the progress made with existing consortia and from international exemplars that there is very considerable coherence in sectoral and educational offerings that make a single HEI hub both a catalyst and a magnet for regional economic development and employment.

The strong regional mission of TUs to support development and innovation is aligned with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040: National Planning Framework. Enhanced HEIs will deliver the skilled and talented people that sustain enterprise and new investments. The National Development Plan 2018 - 2027 cites as a priority the establishment of a clearly prioritised Exchequer-supported higher education building programme including the objective of bolstering the capacity of multi-campus TUs. The current TU development consortia are referenced under Project Ireland 2040 as having a role in deepening the talent pool for distinctive regional clusters and driving research and innovation. TUs will also be well placed to attract increased research funding and to bid for a share of the €4 billion in funding available as part of Project Ireland 2040 over the period 2019 – 2027 under the four broad themes of rural development, urban development, climate action and disruptive technology.

It remains at the discretion of each individual IoT whether or not it chooses to join an existing consortium, or to form a new consortium, of institutes to progress together towards making an application for TU status under the 2018 Act.

Currently four IoTs - Athlone, Dundalk and Limerick Institutes of Technology and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology - have to date not joined or formed a consortium seeking to develop TU proposals.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (152, 166)

James Browne

Ceist:

152. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the construction of a school extension (details supplied); when contact will be made with the school on the matter; if the redesign of the project will be reconsidered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11850/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

166. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 166 togther.

The Deputy may be aware that, in April, 2015, my Department approved an all-in devolved grant for the provision of 2 mainstream classrooms and a WC for assisted users for the school to which he refers.

However, the project proceeded to tender on the basis of works that were not approved for funding. The Board of Management of the school was advised that it was required to revert to the original approved works. The Board has agreed to progress the project accordingly.

The issue referred to by the Deputy is currently being reviewed by my Department. This review is taking longer than would normally be the case due to the complexities of the issues involved.

However, I can assure the Deputy that this assessment is close to finalisation. As soon as it is complete, my Department will be in direct contact with the school authority in order to progress the project as set out in the original approval issued in April 2015.

Emergency Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (153)

James Browne

Ceist:

153. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether it is fair that funding will not be granted to resolve building conditions in a classroom at a school (details supplied) that will soon be used by a child with cystic fibrosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers applied for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for flooring works at their school. As the scope of the works were outside the terms of the scheme, the application was refused and the school were advised that the correct mechanism for delivery of works of this nature was the Summer Works Scheme. The application did not contain any reference to the future enrolment of a pupil with special needs.

One of the purposes of the Emergency Works Scheme is to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. Therefore, it is open to the school to submit a new application for Emergency Works funding to carry out universal access works to the school to facilitate the enrolment of a special needs pupil. The Emergency Works Circular and Application Form are both available on my Departments Website.

Upon receipt, the new application will be assessed and a decision will issue directly to the School Authorities as soon as possible.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (154)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

154. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) has included autism spectrum disorder, ASD, classes in its regeneration plans. [11921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. Where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

The refurbishment project referred to by the Deputy does not include an SEN base.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (155)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

155. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a school (details supplied) for additional classes to include autism spectrum disorder, ASD, classes has been processed; if so, when it will be finalised; and the number of classes applied for. [11922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that an application has been received for additional school accommodation for the school in question. The application is under consideration and as soon this is complete, a decision will be conveyed to the school authority.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (156)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

156. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an intervention will be made to provide autism spectrum disorder, ASD, classes in schools in the Dublin 6, 6W and 12 areas and to protect the rights of a child to access education by invoking section 37A of the Education Act 1998 as inserted by section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 (details supplied). [11924/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

The number of ASD special classes in County Dublin have increased from 66 in the 2011/2012 school year to 197 in the 2018/2019, a threefold increase. There are 15 ASD classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy: 2 Early Intervention classes, 8 Primary ASD classes and 5 Post-primary ASD classes.

Special classes for students with ASD are staffed with a pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level (including early intervention classes) and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have a minimum of two SNAs for every class of 6 children, thus providing for 12 places in Early Intervention, 48 places in Primary and 30 places in post-primary ASD classes in the areas.

My Department is aware that the establishment of special provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 will assist in addressing this issue in areas where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs.

Section 8 of the Act, which commenced on the 3rd of December 2018, provides the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the board of management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular area, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for direct reply.

Technological Universities Status

Ceisteanna (157)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

157. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a motion from a union (details supplied) that Dundalk Institute of Technology should apply to become a technological university under the Technological Universities Act 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11953/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Strategy for Education to 2030 recommended consolidation within the Institute of Technology sector and a pathway of evolution for consolidated institutes of technology (IoTs) to allow them to demonstrate significant progress against stated performance criteria and to become multi-campus technological universities.

The Programme for Government supports the creation of technological universities. These regional higher education institutions will have greater links to industry and will have an enormous impact on the capacity to create and retain jobs in regions. Government will prioritise those institutions which have clear ambitions and plans for the furthering of industry-relevant technological research and education.

A technological university (TU) will be distinguished by a mission and ethos that is aligned and consistent with the current mission and focus of IoTs with an emphasis on programmes at Levels 6 to 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), industry focused research and the development and use of new knowledge through industry-focused research. However, TUs will also offer post-graduate programmes at Levels 9 and 10 on the NFQ.

TUs will help retain talent in the regions by strengthening the offer available to students who will be able to continue to masters and postgraduate level, including PhDs. Larger management and academic teams permitted by the merger of institutions will increase institutional capacity and will facilitate enhanced performance in areas such as winning research funding.

TUs will also be expected to play a pivotal role in facilitating access and progression particularly through relationships with the further education and training sector. The presence of a technological university in a region, with a specific mandate for promoting regional development, will have a transformative effect on local and regional communities.

By creating institutions of increased scale and capacity, multi-campus TUs will bring greater social and economic benefits to their regions through a strengthened role in research and innovation and the delivery of a broad range of high quality education and training in each of their campuses. It is clear from the progress made with existing consortia and from international exemplars that there is very considerable coherence in sectoral and educational offerings that make a single HEI hub both a catalyst and a magnet for regional economic development and employment.

The strong regional mission of TUs to support development and innovation is aligned with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040: National Planning Framework. Enhanced HEIs will deliver the skilled and talented people that sustain enterprise and new investments. The National Development Plan 2018 - 2027 cites as a priority the establishment of a clearly prioritised Exchequer-supported higher education building programme including the objective of bolstering the capacity of multi-campus TUs. The current TU development consortia are referenced under Project Ireland 2040 as having a role in deepening the talent pool for distinctive regional clusters and driving research and innovation. TUs will also be well placed to attract increased research funding and to bid for a share of the €4 billion in funding available as part of Project Ireland 2040 over the period 2019 – 2027 under the four broad themes of rural development, urban development, climate action and disruptive technology.

In terms of the practical progression of TUs, on 19 March 2018 the Technological Universities Act 2018 was signed into law. The Act provides the legal framework underpinning the process for establishment by two or more IoTs as a TU subject to a decision-making process contingent on the meeting of specified eligibility criteria and including assessment by an international advisory panel. The 2018 Act also sets out the functions and governance requirements for these new HEIs.

On 1 January 2019 the first TU in the State, Technological University Dublin, which formerly comprised Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght, was established. This can be regarded as a landmark date in the evolution of Irish higher education. With some 28,000 students, Technological University Dublin became the largest HEI in the State.

Another consortium of IoTs known as the Munster Technological University consortium, comprising Cork IT and IT Tralee, submitted an application to the Minister for Education and Skills seeking TU status under the 2018 Act on 12 February 2019. The relevant legislative procedures under the 2018 Act have commenced in relation to the assessment and decision- making process in relation to this application.

Thus, the Government has provided the enabling legislation in the Technological Universities Act 2018 for two or more IoTs to come together to seek TU status. Government also continues to support those consortia currently seeking to achieve such status under the legislation in terms of significant Exchequer co-funding. The potential benefits of becoming a successful TU are significant in terms of increased reach, international recognition, research capacity building, FDI attraction, skills retention and creation, regional development, enhanced staff and student experience and opportunities and socio-economic progression.

However, while the legislative framework and other supports, including significant Exchequer co-funding, are in place, in the final analysis it remains at the discretion of each individual IoT whether or not it chooses to join an existing consortium, or to form a new consortium, of institutes to progress together towards making an application for TU status under the 2018 Act.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (158)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

158. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the number of prequalified contractors has been reduced from ten to eight in the re-tendering process for the two schools in Maynooth education campus; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board, KWETB, has reduced this number to seven prequalified contractors and that the tender is to go out the week ending 8 March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11988/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can inform the Deputy that only eight valid submissions were received for the prequalification process in respect of the retendering of the project to which she refers. One of those submissions failed to meet the minimum prequalification criteria. In that context, tender documents for completion of the project will issue to seven contractors next week.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (159)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

159. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a report was composed by the team from his Department that visited Maynooth education campus in August 2018 which determined the application for additional accommodation to be refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the matter of temporary accommodation was discussed during a site visit relating to the major capital project currently being undertaken at the school. The Department clarified to the patron, Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board, that there is adequate accommodation available at the ETB's property at Manor Mills to accommodate additional enrolments pending construction of the new permanent school buildings. A report was not composed relating to this matter following the site visit.

I understand that the new school buildings will be going to tender shortly with a view to going on site early in the Summer and the project remains on target for occupation in September 2020.

Student Universal Support Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (160)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

160. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for a third level maintenance grant refused in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019 as a result of an independent mature student being unable to provide proof of independent residence according to the SUSI requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12047/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Applicant Class is determined by age, first point of entry or re-entry into further or higher education, and provision by the applicant of documentary evidence of independent residence. SUSI requires applicants to provide evidence to determine they are living independently as per Article 13 (3) of the Student Grant Scheme 2018.

The specific data requested by the Deputy is not collected by SUSI. However, SUSI has provided statistics on the number of independent awards, refusals and cancellations for the period in question. These statistics are set out in the following table:

- Status

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

Awarded

11,057

9,760

8,681

7,724

Refused

3,993

3,290

3,083

2,611

Cancelled

2,427

1,914

2,039

1,598

Total

17,477

14,964

13,803

11,933

Independent Awards/Refusals/Cancellations 2015-2019

For the current academic year 11,993 applicants applied as ‘independent’ and out of those the majority, 7,724, were awarded a grant. 2,611 were refused for a number of reasons, including failure to meet one or more of the eligibility criteria. 1,598 applications were cancelled. In relation to cancelled applications there can be a number of reasons as to why an application may be cancelled, including a cohort that would cancel their application prior to a decision on their grant in order that they can re-apply as a ‘Mature Dependent’ with detail of the income of parent(s)/guardian(s).

SUSI works with applicants in relation to the documentary evidence that is required to demonstrate independent residence and will advise of the option to re-apply as a Mature Dependent if an applicant cannot provide the necessary documentation required to validate their application as an ‘independent’ student. SUSI is mindful of the variety of living arrangements of individuals applying for a grant and publicises a list of documents that are deemed sufficient for demonstrating independent residence. Given the variation in the documents supplied by applicants this is done on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon the range of documents that can affirm independent residence for the required periods. Often documents are taken in conjunction with one another to assist in the assessment of an applicant as independent. The type of documentation accepted includes:

- A letter confirming that the address is registered with RTB (Residential Tenancies Board);

- A Local Authority lease agreement or a letter confirming the rental under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or any Government Housing Scheme/Arrangement;

- A letter on headed paper from a Rental Agency confirming tenancy;

- A letter confirming the receipt and period of Rent Allowance, Mortgage Interest Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP);

- A Utility bill in applicant’s own name, for example; landline telephone (mobile telephone bills are not accepted), fixed broadband, gas, electricity or cable/satellite television bill/home heating bills/waste bills/Mortgage Statements/Property Tax Letters. If the utility bills in the household are in the spouse’s name, then a copy of a marriage certificate is required with the utility bill (if co-habiting SUSI will accept utility bills in the partner’s name covering the relevant period together with correspondence e.g. bank statement/P21 issued to the applicant at the same address and covering the relevant period); and/or

- Official documentation posted to the applicant at the address and relating to their residence there. For example, a letter from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirming Rent Allowance at the address.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (161)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

161. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for an extension and-or new build; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's 6 year Construction Programme.

The school authority has recently advised my Department that the legal elements associated with the site portfolio are expected to be resolved shortly. My Department awaits further update from the school authority in this regard in due course. In the meantime, my Department has initiated the process of devising the schedules of accommodation for purposes of the school's project brief.

Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (162, 163, 164, 165)

John Curran

Ceist:

162. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name, location and specific energy conservation measures of the schools set to receive deep energy retrofits in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12064/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

163. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools built prior to 2008 nationally where he plans to deliver deep energy efficient retrofits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12065/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

164. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding spent to date on energy retrofits in view of the €2.5 billion identified for the refurbishment and construction of schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

165. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills of the €2.5 billion identified for the refurbishment and construction of schools the amount of funding that will be targeted on delivering energy retrofits between 2018 and 2027 to schools built prior to 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 to 165, inclusive, together.

In the National Development Plan (2018-2027) €2.5bn is identified for the refurbishment and construction of schools. Part of this is an intention to undertake a “deep energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008”. Therefore, this pilot scheme is now paving the way for, and informing, a much larger national schools energy retrofit programme based on a range of typical retrofit options, which will have been tried and tested during the pilot.

To date sixteen schools received energy retrofits with an expenditure of €7 million.

For 2019 a provisional list of schools is currently being progressed to design phase and following completion of this stage the final list of schools and associated funding will be identified.

Energy Conservation Measures delivered to date include fabric (roofs, walls, glazing and doors), heating (boilers, controls, Building Management systems), and electrical (LED lighting and solar PV). Work is ongoing on the pilot and is nearing initial design stage. when the menu of specific energy conservation measures will be confirmed