Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Science Foundation Ireland
762. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for SFI funded PhDs in the past five years; the number of awards that were granted; the trends for both the applications and the awards; if this trend was caused by a funding issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17378/21]
Science Foundation Ireland does not receive applications for PhD positions. The agency funds research grants, following international peer review, the budget for which often includes funding for PhD positions. SFI does not have sight of the number of applications made by candidates to Higher Education Institutions for PhD positions.
SFI monitors the number of PhD students funded through SFI awards by taking an annual snapshot of the number of PhDs involved in active SFI awards. The available data for this snapshot is below. This is the most stable indication of the level of Phds funded through SFI awards at any given time. While figures are not yet available for 2020, the latest figures are as follows:
|PhDs active on SFI awards*||1159||1316||1331||1471||1715|
*As reported by SFI funded researchers in the annual SFI Research Outputs survey. The usual duration of a PhD qualification is 4 years. Therefore, the above figure can be thought of as a 4-year running total of PhDs funded by SFI.
A significant development to the postdoctoral training landscape in recent years has been the formation of the six new SFI Centres for Research Training which were established in 2019 to provide for Ireland’s future skills requirements by training 700 PhD students in digital, data and ICT skills. Collaborations involve 11 Higher Education Institutions and 90 industry partners coming together to develop innovation training programmes in the important fields of data analytics and its application to business, health, agriculture and many other sectors. PhD students on this programme are included in the figures above.