Ireland secures just one of over 400 European research grants

Result prompts calls for an overhaul in how the Government carries out its own funding

Trinity College Dublin tumbled more than 40 places to 164th place in the latest set of world university rankings. Photograph: iStock

Trinity College Dublin tumbled more than 40 places to 164th place in the latest set of world university rankings. Photograph: iStock

 

Just one of more than 400 recently announced European research grants has been awarded to Ireland prompting calls for an overhaul in how the Government carries out its own funding.

The presidents of seven third level institutions represented by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) have said national funding for primary research is far behind that of other countries.

As a consequence, the ability of top researchers to secure external financing such as that of the European Research Council (ERC) is inhibited, they said.

It follows the latest round of awards from the body which this month saw just one successful Irish-based application out of a total of 408 grants from a €621 million pot.

Last week it was announced Garrick Allen of DCU was among the ERC grant recipients for his research project: Titles of the New Testament: A New Approach to Manuscripts and the History of Interpretation.

“Ireland’s poor performance in this year’s ERC funding awards is a clear warning signal that demands urgent attention from government and the funding agencies,” said Dublin City University president Professor Brian MacCraith, chair of the Council of the Irish Universities Association.

The funding round is a further blow to the third level sector in a week when international rankings have slipped.

On Wednesday Trinity College Dublin (TCD) tumbled more than 40 places to 164th place in the latest set of world university rankings. This too sparked calls for urgent Government funding to reverse what is now a decade-long slide in position.

However, the IUA presidents have noted that the Irish Research Council’s Laureate Awards, supporting investigator-led research, are “grossly underfunded”.

“In addition, the Science Foundation Ireland funding programme for individual researchers run in 2016/17 has been replaced by a significantly reduced programme this year. The current programme is likely to provide funding to less than one in eight research applicants,” they said.