National News in Brief

IT Sligo set to receive €13.7 million investment

Education Minister Joe McHugh and Higher Education Minister of State Mary Mitchell O'Connor have announced that Institute of Technology Sligo is set to receive a €13.7 million investment as part of Project Ireland 2040. Project Ireland 2040 is a scheme which aims to provide investments of €2.2 billion in Ireland’s higher education infrastructure. The investment will be funded through the Higher Education Authority, and is intended for the development of the K and L blocks on the institute’s north campus. IT Sligo President Brendan McCormack has said: "The funding will facilitate a significant upgrade of the existing north campus in IT Sligo, bringing together architecture, creative design, fine art, interior architecture & design, performing arts and writing & literature programmes into a creative hub on campus. The upgraded facilities will encourage engagement with the creative industry and community and will act as a focal point for creative sector in the region." This investment will be utilised in the formation of a North-Campus Hub, as IT Sligo looks to progress to the status of Technological University and increase its student population to 10,000.

Hope that US visa scheme will be extended to Irish citizens

There is fresh hope that a special US visa scheme will be extended to Irish citizens seeking work in the US. Irish-American Congressman Richard Neal looks set to reintroduce a bill which could allow Irish people to avail of approximately 5,000 visas under the E3 programme. Currently, the programme is only open to Australians, but as they only use around half of the available visas, the proposed bill would see Irish citizens allowed to apply for the unused visas. The E3 visa programme is a scheme that currently allows Australians to avail of a work visa, and is easier to obtain and cheaper than the traditional H1B work visa. The bill was blocked in the Senate last year by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, but it is now understood that President Donald Trump has liaised with Mr Cotton in a bid to get the legislation through Congress. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has extended his thanks to Congress and Donald Trump for their support of the creation of a new E3 visa programme.

Colleges could risk losing funding if consent classes not provided

A Government commissioned report has stated that colleges should be obliged to provide sexual consent classes to students, or risk losing funding. The report comes amid concerns over the levels of rape and sexual assault cases on Irish campuses. The report made a number of recommendations, some of which include the implementation of protocols for dealing with staff and/or students who are the subject of complaints, widely available consent classes, and an accessible system for students to report any incidents. The report was commissioned by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who recently said that “harassment and assault are experiences too common for many of our third-level students”. She also stated that she wants “to ensure that young adults are supported to achieve positive sexual health. We all have a duty of care to our students, to protect them from sexual harassment, assault and safety from the fear and threat of it.” Her comments come as a recent report from the Union of Students in Ireland, which surveyed more than 2,700 students, found that 16 percent of participants had experienced “unwanted sexual contact”, with 5 percent of women stating that they had been raped, and 3 percent stating that they had been victims of attempted rape. The recommendations of the Government report seek to implement a change in the culture on college campuses, overseen by college management.