University rift deepens over UCD/TCD research agreement

“The rift between the seven universities has deepened with another president adding his concerns about possible Government moves to support an exclusive research agreement between Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD).

The Irish Examiner reported yesterday that Taoiseach Brian Cowen was preparing to announce support for the deal, which would garner public funding for greater collaboration between the two largest universities on research facilities and staff.

National University of Ireland Galway president Dr Jim Browne said the country needs all third level institutions to continue working together and any process which might damage that would be dangerous.

‘I welcome all collaborations but my fear is that preferential treatment for some collaborations might damage the entire sector,’ he said.

Dr Browne cited links between bio-medical research work at NUIG and medical devices multinational Boston Scientific, which is a huge employer, and the dangers any loss of research funding for the college might mean. ‘Research is hugely important for regional development and if you downgrade institutions outside Dublin, you downgrade their stakeholders who create jobs in the region,’ he said.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe denied yesterday that there would be any funding ringfenced for TCD and UCD from the €300 million Programme for Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).

He told the Irish Examiner he had put a claim made to him by University College Cork president Dr Michael Murphy last week to the heads of Trinity and UCD — that their researchers were not co-operating with counterparts in other colleges on joint applications for PRTLI funding.

The minister said he had been assured no instructions along those lines have been issued to staff.

The minister said he was not aware of any plans to ringfence funding under the Government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) for exclusive collaboration between TCD and UCD as such a move would be contrary to Government policy of collaboration between all third level colleges, not just any specific groupings.

‘We’re certainly not going down the road of favouritism of two institutions,’ he said.

The minister said he has met with TCD and UCD bosses to encourage greater collaboration between them, just as he encourages closer co-operation between other neighbouring institutions.

In a statement to UCC’s academic council yesterday, Dr Murphy said the university is extremely concerned about reports of Government funding earmarked for national research investment possibly being diverted for selective benefit of individual universities.”

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 7 March]

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply