Funding bonanza for Northern Ireland duo

May 28, 2009

Northern Ireland's two universities are to see above-inflation increases in their total funding for 2009-10 after nearly £200 million in block grants covering teaching and research was announced by the Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI).

Queen's University Belfast will see its total funding increase in cash terms by 4.2 per cent, equating to 2.2 per cent when inflation of 2 per cent is factored in.

The University of Ulster will see its budget rise by 2.6 per cent, equivalent to 0.6 per cent with inflation.

The allocations include increases in research funding for both universities as a result of the 2008 research assessment exercise - the first appraisal of Northern Ireland's research strengths in seven years.

Overall research funding in the province will rise 7.7 per cent in cash terms, on a par with the highest level of increase in the UK awarded in England.

"The increase in funding is in acknowledgement of the world-class research undertaken by our local universities," said Sir Reg Empey, the Minister for Employment and Learning.

Overall funding for research will increase by 7.9 per cent at Queen's and 7.6 per cent at Ulster, although on the quality-related research (QR) element, Ulster will do proportionately better than Queen's, which is the only Northern Irish member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities.

Mainstream QR funding will rise 5.4 per cent at Ulster, to £14 million, compared with a rise of only 2 per cent at Queen's, to £24 million.

Overall, Queen's will receive £110 million, up £4.4 million, while Ulster will receive £89.5 million, a rise of £2.2 million. The funding formula for QR mirrored that used in England, with work in the top three of four categories (4*, 3* and 2*) funded wherever it was found.

"World-leading" (4*) research was funded at a rate seven times higher, and "internationally excellent" (3*) research at a rate three times higher, than "internationally recognised" (2*) research.

A DELNI spokesman said an additional £2 million in research funding for 2009-10 would be likely for areas of importance to the economy.

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