The HEA provides funding to support a number of ICT initiatives such as retention, summer camps, provision of additional Level 8 numbers on ICT programmes.
The HEA Information Technology Investment Fund (ITIF)
The HEA administers the above fund which provides annual funding to HEI’s to support initiatives in ICT programme retention and the provision of summer computing camps for second level students.
- Retention Initiatives
HEIs allocate funding across specific ICT programme retention activities. The HEA through the Information Technology Investment Fund (ITIF) provides an annual allocation to HEI’s to support activities which focus on integration of incoming students, supports and facilities for all students, and targeted activities for students experiencing difficulties.
- Summer Computing Camps
In the absence of computing on the second level curricula in Ireland, supports to maintain the stream of students into ICT at third level are critical. In this context, the ITIF funded summer computing camps encourage second level students to consider ICT and in particular computing careers.
Level 8 Additional ICT Places
One of the objectives as set out in the ICT Skills Action Plan (2014-2018) is to offer additional places on core undergraduate ICT courses leading to a Level 8 award.
Core ICT courses are defined as those in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies, Computer Use, Database and Network Design Administration, Software Applications and Development Analysis and Electronics and Automation.
Level 9 Graduate Skills Conversion Course
In 2012 an estimated 68,280 ICT professionals were working within the ICT sector and across other sectors of the economy. According the to the report of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs” Addressing Future Demand for High Level ICT Skills” Ireland is likely to face an average increase in demand of 5% a year to 2018 with employment of ICT professionals likely to reach 91,000. Ireland is home to the 9 of the top 10 global software companies as well as all of the top ten internet companies including social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter.
In order to ensure a continuous supply of high skilled graduates for this sector in Ireland Minister Bruton allocated €I million in Budget 2017 to support the provision of Level 9 MSc Computer Science conversion programmes to commence in the academic year 2017/18.
These programmes are aimed at individuals who hold a minimum of a primary degree in another discipline (e.g., Arts, Business) seeking to enter an ICT career. The maximum grant allowed is €5,000 per student irrespective of the fee charged by the institution.
ICT Summer Camps
The ICT Skills Action Plan 2014-2018 has as one of its strategic priorities to “Enhance ICT capacity and awareness in the education system”. Arising from this the HEA were tasked to provide support to higher education institutions in delivering Summer Computing Camps to encourage second level students to consider ICT careers. Minister Bruton allocated an additional € 250,000 in Budget 2017 to support further provision of ICT summer camps by higher education institutions. This allocation will continue to support the successful initiative funded from the HEA Information Technology Investment Fund (link to relevant section above).
The ICT Summer Camps are aimed at second level students, with a particular focus again on female participation. As with the ITIF Summer Camps, the aim is to encourage young participants to consider a career in ICT and especially computing careers.