Sir Gordon Beveridge, vice chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, has warned business leaders that Government funding cuts could severely hamper Northern Ireland's economic development and lead to the loss of local jobs.
Both Queen's and Ulster Universities are fighting against a Pounds 4 million cut in research funding next year, potentially rising to Pounds 6 million in each of the following years. This is a result of increased Government spending on security following the resumption of violence in the province.
Sir Gordon has written to more than 2,000 industrialists asking them to lobby ministers to review the decision. He believes the Queen's funding cut alone could mean the loss of almost 100 researchers and 160 research assistants, postgraduates and support staff, and lead to a further 100 job losses in the wider community.
Some specific research areas could close completely, he predicts.