Letterkenny IT is to share in a near €3 million funding pot to drive flexible learning options in the north-west.

The college is one of 23 third level bodies sharing a slice of a €23million package under the new Higher Education Innovation and Transformation Fund.

The fund was launched in 2018 as part of the modernisation and reform of the funding model for higher education.

Education Minister Joe McHugh visited LYIT as he confirmed the massive allocation of funding for the college, where he also met LYIT president Paul Hannigan, GMIT president Dr Michael Hannon and IT Sligo president Dr Brendan McCormack.

Minister McHugh said: “It is a real privilege to be able to share news like this – €2.84 million in Government funding over the next three years to reward and support LYIT, and their close colleagues in IT Sligo and GMIT, as top class academic staff chase innovative ideas to attract more people to third level education and do more to create flexible options for learning in the north-west.

“LYIT is taking the lead on this project and it is heartening to see a college in Donegal driving this initiative and being rewarded for that.

“The Government has recognised we need to do more to open up third level education and now we are backing that cause by providing millions in funding for the right initiatives.

“The Innovation and Transformation Fund is part of the €250million additional investment by the Government in higher education since 2016, bringing total funding to more than €1.7 billion.  And it will play a vital role in the coming years in attracting a broader range of people to third level.”

Under the Innovation and Transformation Fund some projects will see third level institutions partnering with organisations such as An Cosán, Family Carers Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland to learn and adopt better ways of ensuring education is open to as many people as possible.

Others will focus on developing digital systems to enable more flexible learning, including through online options and simulation training.

And others focus on student mental health, supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups, student retention, leadership and preparing students for the working world.

Minister McHugh added: “These Government-supported initiatives will create new opportunities and help to position Ireland’s education system as a leader in inclusiveness, diversity and flexible models of education and lifelong learning.”

The Innovation and Transformation Fund opened with a call for proposals by the Higher Education Authority in 2018. Applications were assessed by an independent panel.

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