Minister Harris announces over €5.5 million in funding to recognise and reward outstanding performance by higher education institutions

By Amber Flynn

Posted: 25 September, 2023

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD  has today announced five higher education institutions have been awarded €5.5 million in recognition of their outstanding contribution to national strategic priorities and policies.

Performance Funding is awarded to institutions in recognition of the following initiatives:

  • University of Limerick’s ‘Greentown Project’ to reduce the influence of crime networks on vulnerable children and families;
  • University of Galway’s Active* Consent programme;
  • South East Technological University and An Cosán’s national Linked Provision programmes, which provide third level opportunities for mature students and women;
  • Technological University Dublin’s major decarbonisation initiative;
  • University College Cork’s ‘Barr na gCnoc’ project in partnership with Terence MacSweeney Community College.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Today, we are recognising the exceptional performance of the higher education and research system.

“It is clear that our higher education institutions are having an impact across society. The Greentown project in University of Limerick has been transformational in helping children and their families in their communities.

“While the impact of the Active Consent* programme developed by University of Galway has been extraordinary in equipping our young people with the knowledge, skills, and awareness they need to address to address consent, harassment and sexual violence.

“The work of TU Dublin in developing renewable energy solutions, the partnership between the South East Technological University and An Cosán in supporting women to access education, and the promotion of the Irish language to inspire young people by University College Cork are all exemplary.

“I would like to congratulate each of the successful institutions and look forward to seeing the impact of the work you are doing on education and society.”

The performance funding awards were based on an evaluation of Impact Assessment Case Studies submitted by higher education institutions (HEIs) to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in May 2023. HEIs were invited to showcase a significant contribution made towards national strategic priorities and policies. The submissions were assessed by an independent panel of expert assessors.

Commenting on the successful initiatives, CEO of the HEA, Dr Alan Wall, said: “These awards highlight the vital role of the higher education sector in contributing to delivery of national strategy and policy. I am particularly pleased to see the range of partnerships formed with communities and organisations in areas including sustainability, access and participation, and community and campus engagement.  The success of these initiatives demonstrates the impact of our institutions in society.”

Among the successful initiatives recognised by Performance Funding 2023 is University of Limerick’s ‘Greentown Project’ which developed a collaborative evidence-informed programme to reduce the influence of crime networks on vulnerable children and families.

University of Galway developed and expanded the Active* Consent programme, establishing it as the leading national programme for consent. The programme engages students and staff across the higher education system through awareness raising, education and training, and has informed key policy development and the national media discourse on consent.

South East Technological University expanded its educational partnership with An Cosán, which provided third level opportunities for mature students and women ‘left furthest behind’, into a national Linked Provision programme involving 200 community organisations. The partnership facilitates lifelong learning and social inclusion for over 100 students annually.

Technological University Dublin worked with public and private partners to launch a major decarbonising initiative enabling the development of a district heating network in its Tallaght campus and a deep-bore geothermal heating system in the Grangegorman campus. The initiative aims to generate a minimum of 70% renewable heating on site by 2030.

University College Cork’s ‘Barr na gCnoc’ project formed a community partnership with Terence MacSweeney Community College, Knocknaheeny, to support the demand for educational choice in areas of socio-economic exclusion. The partnership established an Aonad Lán-Ghaeilge in the school, where all subjects were taught through Irish from first year to Leaving Certificate.

Performance Funding was first introduced under the 2018-2020 System Performance Framework to support and recognise positive performance in the system. The funding can be used to expand and progress existing initiatives or put towards new initiatives that contribute towards national strategic imperatives. Oversight of the funding awarded will be managed by the HEA.

The successful case studies have been published here on the HEA’s website.

Table 1: Performance Funding Awards 2023

HEI Impact Assessment Case Study Title Award
UG The Active* Consent programme: Leading on sectoral culture change €1,297,969
UL Greentown: Reducing the influence of criminal networks over children and families €1,297,969
SETU SETU & An Cosán: Using the power of community education to create transformative higher education pathways for social inclusion and sustainable development €1,000,000
TU Dublin TU Dublin: A Beacon for Sustainability €1,000,000
UCC Barr na gCnoc: University Assisted Community Schools Pilot Initiative €1,000,000
Total €5,595,938


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