Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science and Technology James Lawless TD has responded to news that Ireland’s leading universities have fallen in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The figures, published today, show no Irish university in the top 200 globally ranked universities.

Deputy Lawless commented, “These figures are a reflection on the funding cuts which have been detrimental to Ireland’s third level sector. We are now one of the lowest investors in third level education in the OECD. This is simply not good enough. Under the previous government, capital funding to universities and institutions of technology was reduced by 50%. Research funding was also reduced by €200 million.

“I know from speaking with multinationals and ICT firms based in Ireland that they are struggling to attract high caliber graduates. They are often forced to recruit from abroad as a result of this.

“Within the last few months large tech firm Fitbit have relocated their EMEA Headquarters to Dublin and Apple have committed to create over 600 additional jobs in Cork. To maintain this attraction our universities need to be producing top graduates yearly. I would also call for STEM subjects to be increased in second level.

“A five year funding strategy is required for universities and institutes of technology. The strategy needs to commit investment in the Recurrent Grant to Higher Education Institutions to enhance teaching, lecturer / student ratios and research output.

“A significant capital and research programme that at least matches the previous five-year funding cycle of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, put in place by the Fianna Fáil government in 2010, is also required.

“An investment cycle of this size, of the order of approximately €296 million, could receive equal matching funding from the private sector, as historically has been the case. This would provide a huge boost to universities and institutes of technology over the five year cycle 2017-2021, once the current PRTLI scheme ends in 2016.”