Brussels, Jul 2004
An independent report commissioned by the Irish Higher Education Authority (HEA) has found that despite a reputation for having a cutting-edge knowledge economy, Ireland is still lagging behind other European countries in terms of research.
The international assessment committee, chaired by professor Enric Banda, a member of the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) and former Secretary-General of the European Science Foundation, noted that in Ireland, government spending in the strategic area of scientific research is well below that of other states.
Furthermore, the report found that the government's lack of consistency in funding scientific research damaged confidence in Irish research projects and made it more complicated to recruit top scientists. Highlighting the importance of research in the economy, the report also proposes that the Prime Minister chair a committee to supervise research spending.
The current lack of coherence in the allocation of spending, warns the report, 'threatens the whole research edifice'.
In addition, states the report, despite the considerable investment in recent years, there is 'still much to be done to optimise the development of a knowledge-based Irish society.'
On the other hand, the assessment committee is very positive about the impact of the programme for research in third-level institutions (PRTLI), which aims to encourage 'internationally competitive' research centres in third-level colleges.
According to professor Banda, PRTLI is 'the beginning of a major and most beneficial transformation of the research landscape of Ireland that will help to install an innovation-driven economy.'
'The PRTLI broke new ground in research funding schemes, especially in its focus on strengthening the linkage between teaching and research, its emphasis on institutional prioritisation of research investment and its support for institutions working together to create a more competitive critical mass of research effort. The integration of these features into a single funding scheme is what differentiates and gives a high profile to PRTLI and makes it one of the most innovative that we have encountered,' professor Banda concluded. To read the assessment report on PRTLI, please visit: http://www.hea.ie/uploads/word/PRTLI%20I mpact%20Assessment%202004.doc