Project Ireland 2040 was unveiled by Leo Varadkar in IT Sligo earlier today, with all the inflated pomp and ceremony of an overly-enthusiastic father proudly showing off a collection of holiday photographs to an assembled huddle of disinterested relatives.
Broadly, the €115 billion plan, can be described as an infrastructural stimulus package to maintain and improve vast swathes of Irish infrastructure that are either in need of redevelopment; development; or maintenance to keep them from disrepair that are needed to help cope with the expected expanding of the nation's population over the coming years. In short, it is an attempt to make Ireland less of a shit-show.
While much of the press attention may be focusing on the much anticipated re-re-announcement of a Dublin Metro, several more Luas lines and new DART lines - that really push the limits of what could still realistically be described by any sane person as being in the 'Dublin Area' - we here at CollegeTimes shirk the direction of the mainstream. We refuse to get dragged along in the current of the majority and instead search along the banks of the river - in this increasingly ill-advised metaphor - for worthy nuggets of news, relevant to you, the honest college student.
Well as part of the National Development Plan, part of the twin-pronged approach of Project Ireland 2040, a significant chunk of money has been set aside for education.
According to The Irish Times breakdown of the report, all Irish universities will receive a share of an allocated €2.2 billion fund set aside for third-level development. The fund seems limited to being a structural development fund to be metred out to building and development projects for Irish universities. While it is conceivable that some of this may be spent on much-needed student accommodation, it does not seem that any of this fund would find its way into the coffers of SUSI or any other grant schemes or initiatives set up to directly benefit students.
It is also worth remembering the name of this government initiative, 'Project Ireland 2040'. Thus, this planned financial stimulus for Irish universities is thus to spread out over the next 20 or so years, admittedly as a presumed supplemental expansion to the standard levels of year on year third level funding.
While this is certainly not unwelcome news for the student community of Ireland, it is certainly not something that sets to tackle the many issues surrounding the access of provision of service for students and the personal financial difficulties incurred by the majority of students enrolled in third level education throughout Ireland.
The other big news relating to Irish third-level institutions was the fact that, beyond this €2.2 billion, funds would be set aside for the creation of the much anticipated Technological University of the South-East.