Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless TD has said the decrease in many Irish University rankings as highlighted by the latest the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are a great cause of concern.

Deputy Lawless welcomed the increase in rankings for both Maynooth University and NUIG but said that the Government must get its act together and set out a pathway to recover the ground lost over the last ten years.

He explained, “As it stands, it looks as though there is a very precarious future for science and research funding in the country. As is evident with all aspects of the third-level sector in this country, the Government are showing nothing but ambivalence to research and development (R&D) in our colleges and Universities.

“Any available funding has been redirected by Government towards more commercial research at the expense of discovery research in labs and libraries.

“There has been no successor to the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), a programme which the Fianna Fáil party established and funded.

“This scheme is critical as it provides for the upgrading of facilities and allows investment in laboratories and libraries, thus promoting research. It is a huge disappointment that there has been no successor scheme or fresh round of funding since this expired.

“The Government’s own target of spending 2.5% of GDP on R&D by 2020 is most certainly not going to be realised as the current overall spend stands at around 1.7%.

“While the stagnant and decreasing University rankings are most disappointing they are not surprising. The Government claims time and time again that they want to build a knowledge economy. However, it’s approach to dealing with the third level sector as at odds with this commitment considering higher education is the foundation of a knowledge economy”, he concluded.