Third-level capital programmes targeted in €56m cutback plan


EDUCATION:OVER €56 MILLION in capital projects, mostly at third level, will be cut from the Government programme under the recovery plan announced last night.

But in a boost to the construction industry, an extra €75 million has been allocated to the schools building programme. This will help fund a revival of the summer works programme of school refurbishments and extensions.

The cutbacks in capital programmes will mean less money for building projects and refurbishment work across the third-level sector, but particularly in the universities. A new round of public-private partnerships involving the construction of schools, mostly at second level, will also be cut back.

A spokesman for Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said the cuts in capital projects mean “a saving in 2009 of €56 million in our capital budgets outside the school building programme”.

“We’ll be looking at the specific details of the reductions in these programmes, but the Minister expects that, due to the very competitive environment in the construction sector at present, the effect of the reduction in these allocations will be greatly mitigated.”

Last night a spokesman for the seven university presidents said the universities and higher skills were central to the Government’s “smart economy” plan.

“While recognising the need to address the current economic difficulties, reductions in investment in higher education can serve to delay our economic recovery and future stability.”

The total capital allocation for the Department of Education of €889 million includes an allocation of €581 million for the schools capital programme. This allows the department to complete 26 major projects and start work on 62 major projects. It will allow completion of 100 smaller projects and allow another 80 projects previously approved to be completed.