The country's seven universities will for the first time get funding for small-scale building works and high-tech equipment upgrades.

The funds are part of a new €40m scheme which has been announced by the Minister for Education & Science, Batt O'Keeffe.

Until now, only institutes of technology could utilise the €15m fund to cover a range of small-scale capital works.

The scheme has been broadened to cover the upgrade of information communications technology and investment in science facilities.