Irish Universities Congratulate the Government on underwriting 4th level skills as the key to the country's future prosperity

Speaking as President of the Irish Universities Association Dr. Iggy O Muircheartaigh congratulated the Government on the announcement of the “Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation” (SSTI). He said that this research investment plan was a ringing endorsement by the Taoiseach and his Ministers of 4th level skills as the key driver of development for Ireland as a knowledge society.

The IUA saw the new Strategy as a vote of confidence in the capacity of the universities to build the physical and human capital necessary to deliver 4th Level Ireland. “The universities” he said “are excited by the challenges presented by the Strategy. I have no doubt that the universities as a sector will rise to meet them – train twice the current number of PhDs to world class standards, engage the extra 350 Principal Investigators and research teams, and develop the additional centres and networks of research excellence required across the sector in order to achieve these targets. This will entail delivering on the unprecedented levels of inter-institutional collaboration already committed to by the sector, and the implementation of  the universities’ reform agenda which is being supported by the Government’s  €300m Strategic Innovation Fund”

Research is now a major activity in all of the universities and is entirely complementary to the teaching mission in every institution.  The synergistic and holistic development of both research and teaching will be underpinned by the roll-out of the Strategic Innovation Fund [SIF].  A key area in this regard will be the development of inter-university Graduate Schools/Programmes for the training of PhD in line with international best practice. A particular objective is to have PhD graduates fully equipped to move easily from the academic environment to work in industry, business, public service and government.

Government investment in research under the current National Development Plan 2000-2006 has enabled universities to build a solid platform of research capacity and excellence.  Funding under the new government Strategy will enable them to increase significantly their research output. Universities will ensure that the knowledge created is protected and all avenues for commercialisation are thoroughly explored and supported.

Stimulating increased investment in research by industry will be a major challenge.  Universities will intensify their work with industry and business in Ireland to increase collaboration and support their R&D expansion.

The Irish Universities are ready to compete for funding under SSTI which will enable them to raise the international ranking of the Irish University sector, thereby making Ireland more attractive for students and researchers both from Ireland and abroad.

The integrated cross-sectoral nature of the Strategy as emphasised by the involvement of the Taoiseach and so many of his Ministers in its announcement is in itself a welcome and highly significant development. Implementation of the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation will require robust inter-departmental structures and strong and decisive leadership and decision-making. For its part the IUA is committed to working closely with Government to ensure smooth and speedy implementation and optimal impact.

CONTACT Michael McGrath – 087 2837687