Thursday, 17 January 2019
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Higher Education Institutions
121. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the introduction of a new five year cycle with respect to the programme for research in third level institutions; the duration of the cycle in operation; and when it ceases. [2291/19]
The current Cycle 5 of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) was announced in 2010 and has involved exchequer expenditure of approx. €277m with a further €59m of private investment. Cycle 5 projects have now been completed and my Department is addressing the remaining payments associated with these awards. In addition to supporting the provision of top-class research infrastructure (buildings, laboratories and cutting-edge equipment), PRTLI saw significant investment in human capital development, through Structured PhD/Emergent Technology programmes across Ireland’s Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).
Innovation 2020, the Government's strategy for research and innovation, includes an action to scope out and develop a successor to PRTLI to support new investment in research infrastructure, including buildings and equipment. It also contains an action to increase the enrolment of PhD and research masters students. The scoping of a future cycle of PRTLI has been undertaken by my Department, working with the Department of Education and Skills (DES).
While future cycles of PRTLI are referenced in the National Development Plan, Project Ireland 2040, it is important to note that actions are already being taken by DBEI and DES to fund all of the key elements that had been encompassed by PRTLI including research buildings, equipment and structured PhD programmes. These actions include:
- my Department, through Science Foundation Ireland, has allocated more than €74m for research equipment across the higher education system since the start of 2016, providing significant additional investment for research equipment. This includes €24.8m in 2018.
- My Department, again through Science Foundation Ireland, has commenced roll-out of a new €100 million programmes of investment in PhDs and Research Masters through new Centres for Research Training (CRT). The annual budget for this programme will increase to €15 million this year. The CRT programme will provide training for cohorts of Research Masters and PhD students with new cohorts of students enrolling each year for four years from 2019. It will provide training for 600 postgraduate students in areas of nationally and internationally identified future skills needs of digital, data and ICT.
- The Department of Education and Skills also announced funding in the context of Budget 2018 and 2019 to address the need for physical space for research in the higher education sector. This included Budget 2018 announcements of €200m for public private partnerships in the Institute of Technology sector and €257m for investment in the higher education sector generally, including for research. Budget 2019 then saw announcements of €57 million to be invested in higher education initiatives in 2019 along with capital investment of €150 million being allocated to the higher education, further education and training and research sectors. Project Ireland 2040 signals a significant commitment in capital investments in the region of €2.8 billion by the Department of Education and Skills in higher education over the coming decade and this includes support for research. On 11th January 2019, the Minister for Education and Skills announced a call for applications for a €80 million Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund which forms part of this Project Ireland 2040 programme of investment.
The actions being taken by my Department and the Department of Education and Skills are addressing to a significant degree the requirements for increased investment in both physical infrastructure and human capital in higher education research as identified in Innovation 2020.