Funding science and engineering

 

Sir, – Further to recent correspondence (August 6th and 7th), there is no question that basic research can lead to all sorts of applications. Likewise, the process of solving real-world problems, as both engineers and scientists do, can stimulate research in new areas of basic science. But the key question is this – what research funding policies should a small, fiscally challenged state adopt to maximise the return on its investment? It is questionable whether scientists and engineers have the expertise to answer this question and, not being disinterested parties, they will always be able to provide examples from the history of science to support their own particular point of view. It would be very interesting, therefore, to hear from economists, sociologists and educationalists who have actually done some research into how state funding of academic research impacts on the economy, society in general, and the quality of the third-level education system. – Yours, etc,

GREG FOLEY,

School of Biotechnology,

Dublin City University.