ONE of Ireland's leading universities is to invest €350m in the biggest expansion plan in its history.
University College Cork (UCC) today confirmed the €350m expansion which will create 500 construction jobs and support an expansion of its student population from 21,000 to 23,000.
Central to the investment will be allowing for an expansion of foreign student numbers from 3,300 to 4,400.
The major infrastructural element of the plan will be a 20pc increase in campus space to cater for the expanded student numbers.
UCC confirmed last year it had clinched a €100m loan from the European Investment Bank to support the massive expansion.
The investment includes a €64m expansion of student accommodation projects, €37m on a new Cork dental school, €27m on the development of its Western Campus, €90m on a new student hub, a new creative hub and investment in the Cork University Business School as well as flood protection measures, €23m on a new clinical medical school and €10m on ancillary regional developments including hospitals in Waterford, Kerry and Tipperary.
More than 500 construction jobs will be created by the various development projects.
UCC President Professor Patrick O’Shea said it was a landmark project.
"We are committed to ensuring that UCC becomes the location of choice for Irish and international students. Like myself, many of us are first-generation university graduates, and we are passionate about ensuring access to higher education," he said.
Former UCC President, Dr Michael Murphy, who developed the plan, said it was vital to the university's future as a world-class institution.
"This is the largest investment in capital projects at UCC in our history," he said
"The scale and ambition of the infrastructural developments align directly to key focus areas for the future, namely enhancing student experience and building on our innovation and health agenda and facilities."
"We are investing significantly in student accommodation, student ICT services and a new student hub as well as developing the medical, dental, paediatrics research, clinical health, innovation and research facilities to continue to fuel progress and success in these areas."
"This investment by the EIB will have enormous impact not only for UCC but for education and research nationally and internationally."
"The European Investment Bank funding is a real expression of confidence and support in UCC, its staff and students and will greatly assist the University in further improving its teaching and research facilities."
Founded in 1845, UCC has rapidly expanded over the past 40 years and now caters for almost 21,000 students, an increasing number of whom attend from North America, Europe, Asia, South America and New Zealand/Australia.