IUA Statement 20.01.21: Higher Education Research & Development Survey welcome but highlights the need for a step change in research investment

IUA universities account for four-fifths of higher ed research spend

The IUA welcomes the publication of the Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD) by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD. This latest HERD survey clearly shows the need for a step change in research and innovation investment in Ireland given the fall in our research spend rankings from 14th to 23rd place in the OECD list.

While the survey shows some positive developments for Irish research in terms of gender balance and researcher numbers, it is disappointing that over the last decade the country has dropped from 14th to 23rd place in the rankings of research spend across the 37 OECD countries. It must now be a top priority for the new Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to reverse this decline and to bring forward a multi-annual programme of research investment that restores Ireland’s competitive position for research and innovation.

Commenting on the survey Dr Lisa Keating, Director of Research and Innovation at IUA said, “This survey provides important insights into Ireland’s vibrant research ecosystem and points the direction for future research policy. Given the importance of this national asset, the government’s enhanced focus on higher education research, through the establishment of a new government department and dedicated cabinet minister, provides the opportunity for research to have greater impact on the lives of the Irish public. Bringing government investment levels in research in line with Ireland’s competitors is critical to realising these opportunities”

The HERD survey clearly shows the pivotal role the Higher Education sector plays in Ireland’s R&D landscape, shaping and strengthening the country in which we live. The major contribution of the university sector to the national effort to create new knowledge, talent and innovations for Ireland’s future success is seen in the €715m expenditure on R&D among IUA members, accounting for 81.6% of HERD.

The survey, undertaken every two years, provides important data on research activity in Ireland’s higher education institutions, the State’s de facto public research system. The detailed statistics this exhaustive exercise provides, form the basis for national research policy, and are the metrics by which Ireland’s international position among OECD countries is measured.


HERD Survey 2018/2019