The future of Ireland’s research effort

Later today (Friday, July 16), the Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister) will announce the results of the latest cycle of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). It would be hard to over-state the significance of PRTLI in the development of Ireland’s research infrastructure over the past 12 years or so. Initially prompted and co-funded by philanthropist Chuck Feeney, the PRTLI investment allowed Ireland’s higher education institutions to be properly equipped with buildings and laboratories and to attract world class researchers. It was one of the key factors that led to Irish universities entering the global rankings. It turned us from provincial teaching institutions into places that would attract knowledge-intensive inward investment. Through all this it ensured Ireland’s transition from a low value manufacturing economy to a high value knowledge economy was made possible, and this is now our best hope for renewed growth.

Over the past year or so there has been some considerable anxiety in Irish higher education circles about whether PRTLI would continue and whether the government would fund a new (fifth) cycle of the programme. Today’s announcement seems to conform that PRTLI is alive and well. It will be important to see whether the amount to be invested meets current needs and allows the country’s R&D ambitions to be met. It will also be worth watching how the money will be distributed between the competing higher education institutions.

I shall comment further when the results are known later.

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5 Comments on “The future of Ireland’s research effort”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    That this goes ahead, given the dreadful state of the public finances, is remarkable. My guess is that there won’t be a huge amount of money involved: half a billion say, ‘though it sounds a lot, when you spread it out doesn’t buy you a lot of research. But its an important and welcome signal nonetheless.
    As for the distribution between competing institutions, my other guess is that, after a rigorous peer review process etc etc, it will be roughly evenly divided. We can’t give it all to that shower in Dublin after all, or even Cork for that matter.
    What I think will be more interesting is the allocation between fields of research.

  2. Perry Share Says:

    Looks like UCD/TCD big winners (my perception anyway) and big dig out for the arts and humanities in terms of digitisation (the trendy end of the arts). Nothing much for the social sciences – unless you call economics a social science which is debatable. Irish Social Science Platform, the key research network in the social sciences, left out in the cold.

  3. Vincent Says:

    It’s a tad florid.
    Are the partners putting a matching amount of money. And how exactly is a repository, well just what is it doing in this Vote.


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