€40 million of funds allocated to Dunboyne College expansion

Eoin Ryan

Planning for a new purpose-built college of further education for Dunboyne College of Further Education after Funding has been allocated in 2022. The announcement was made by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education during a visit to the further education college on Monday.

It is estimated to cost €40 million and take 3 to 4 years according to Principal Denis Leonard unless circumstances change.

“I imagine we’re 3 to 4 years away from its final product, but I guarantee it will be worth the worth.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris stated that the funding has been allocated in his Department’s budget and confirmed that officials from his Department and Solas, the state training agency, have met with LMETB to further the project.

Dunboyne college will be the first to garner funds and a purpose-built building under the new government department of further and higher education. As the first construction under this new department, it “will become the template for future further education colleges that will be built under this new department.”

Minister Harris was in Dunboyne to perform the official opening of a specialized Sensory Room, which is designed to support students during their time in Dunboyne College. Speaking on the funds, he said “I want to be very clear that the project is happening, there is allocation in the Department’s capital budget and I want to work with all the stakeholders to make real and tangible progress in 2022 towards a facility that will be transformational for Dunboyne, for Meath and for Further Education. A new purpose-built college here in Dunboyne is a statement of intent that purpose-built modern facilities is the way forward.”

Dunboyne college started out with 50 students in 2003 in rental office spaces and has now 1,000 students attending on a yearly basis.

This is the only further education college in Meath, Dublin West, and Northern Kildare, making it the most viable option for an estimated population of 400,000 people.
With this new expansion, Dunboyne College will accommodate 1,400-1,500 more students for a wider range of apprenticeships, traineeships, skills to advance

“We’re probably the first choice further education provider to 400,000,” Denis Leonard said. “So that’s a very large demographic and all that has held us back over the years is we really haven’t had the purpose-built classrooms or accommodation to hold more than 15 or 20 in class where 30 or 40 want to do it.

“We really just need the room to expand, we need a purpose-built building, and we have been knocking on the door for 20 years and finally our time has come.”

2022 will primarily involve site acquisitions, site identification, and providing a correct business case so the building is not “too small or build it too big” for the area.

This will include up to date technology, infrastructure, and facility “to allow for the highest calibre of training necessary” for students.

90% of Dunboyne college graduates get a third level offer, making it a viable option for those finished 6th year in the local area who need further educational needs.

“It’s a highly successful model, but we need to expand that model into different areas”

Purpose-built buildings will be added as specific facilities are necessary for some degrees available at the college. “We are often bussing people from here to purpose built facilities rather than having everything on one site where people of all different disciplines can take part in their course together as a large student body.”

The aim is to encompass a larger variety of fields of education where “you don’t need a four year degree but you just need basic skills in that area,” Leonard said.

“It’s a highly successful model, but we need to expand that model into different areas”

“Dunboyne College is producing the next generation of workers in Dunboyne”

Income for jobs requiring an apprenticeship such as electrician and bricklayer are increasing dramatically as demand is higher than ever. This leaves many with a great opportunity to make a healthy living, but further education is needed for many going into these fields.

“Dunboyne College is producing the next generation of workers in Dunboyne and what is important now is that we will have the space and the ability to grow and support even more students and the business and industry in this region,” Minister Helen McEntee said. “That is the goal and objective”.

Denis Leonard added that he would “would like to thank Minister Harris and Minister English and our local councillors for their visit here on the 20th December and particularly Minister Helen McEntee who as well as being there on the day has been with us on much of our journey. I also want to thank all our staff and students for creating a college of excellence here at Dunboyne College which is the main reason this campus development is happening. We are very grateful and also the support of Martin O’Brien CE of LMETB and our Director Sadie Ward McDermott for their constant support, our Board of Management, the local community here in Dunboyne, and our Advisory group formed 10 years ago which has included John Bruton and Mary Wallace and Minister Thomas Byrne.”

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