National Research Councils announce
Graduate Research Education Programmes
Graduate Research School concept takes off with State funding
25th May, 2007 - The two national research councils, the Irish Research Council for
Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) and the Irish Research Council for
Humanities and Social Studies (IRCHSS), have today announced a major funding
programme which will lead to the establishment of Graduate Research Education
Programmes in Ireland.
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are invited to apply on a collaborative basis for
the multi-annual funding of graduate research education programmes. The joint call
for applications will allocate an initial total in the region of €6 - €10 million in funding
to this initiative. The duration of a programme for which funding is sought may be up
to five years.
Graduate Research Education Programmes will provide a more structured approach
to postgraduate formation in Ireland, along the lines of graduate schools, bringing
together groupings of expertise focussed on high quality research. They will
provide a valuable approach towards the accomplishment of the State’s goal to
double the number of postgraduate researchers in Ireland.
Applications for funding by consortia of higher education institutions under the
scheme can comprise a number of elements including funding for PhD students to be
recruited to a programme; proposals for course development and course delivery to
research students in a programme. Initiatives designed to assist in the administration
of the programme, in the development of graduate education networks, in the
recruitment of well-qualified students are also eligible for funding.
The development of this initiative mirrors and builds on international developments in
research education. It follows an extensive initial consultation process between the
two national research councils and the higher education research community
between 2005 and 2006. This led to a competition for exploratory funding whereby
20 Higher Education Institutions investigated the feasibility of individual Graduate
Research Education Programmes.
The Chair of IRCHSS, Dr. Maurice Bric, commented: The establishment of a
national Graduate Research Education Programme by both Councils heralds an
innovative approach to postgraduate and doctoral formation in Ireland. Higher
Education Institutions have indicated their enthusiasm for this initiative which will
enhance the competitiveness of Irish research on a national and international basis.”
IRCSET Chair, Professor Jane Grimson, commented: “Graduate Research
Education Programmes will bring together groupings of expertise focussed on high
quality research. They will provide a more formalised and structured approach to
research education and career formation for doctoral and masters scholars. This
initiative will equip Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions and researchers to
participate in the type of world class programmes which Ireland requires to compete
even more successfully in the international research and enterprise environments.”
The State’s objective of doubling the number of postgraduate qualifications in Ireland
by 2013 will lead to a much greater variety of career paths for those with research
degrees. It is intended that Ireland will have a cadre of highly qualified research
professionals capable of leading advancements in the academic and commercial
research sectors and contributing to Ireland’s economic progress. To achieve this
goal, traditional forms of doctoral training must be augmented and supported by new
structures and procedures if Ireland is to be an acknowledged leader in training
researchers at the formative stages of their careers.
Graduate Research Education Programmes have a pivotal role to play in positioning
Irish expertise at the forefront of global research developments. They will serve to
foster our indigenous research base, attracting new research funding and talent to
our shores and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation as a world centre of
The IRCSET and IRCHSS initiative ties in closely with the trend towards enhanced
collaboration by research teams both nationally and internationally across the
European Research Area and beyond. Research expertise must be mobilised and
spread across Irish research establishments in the national interest.
More formalised research groupings will be better able to realise the benefits of multi-
annual State research funding and EU funding through Framework Programme
Seven (FP7) and the European Research Council, among other initiatives. They will
also particularly be able to enhance their relevance to the enterprise sector thereby
attracting new commercially led research programmes.
This initiative is designed to raise overall levels of excellence in postgraduate
education programmes and to provide further value for the State’s resources
invested in PhD training, in line with the objectives outlined in the national Strategy
for Science, Technology and Innovation and the National Development Plan.
For further information please contact:
Martin Hynes, IRCSET, 01 231 5000 Sheena Duffy, IRCHSS, 01 660 3652