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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 15:52 GMT
Universities campaign on research
There are concerns over research funding in NI
There are concerns over research funding in NI
Northern Ireland is the poor relation of university research in the United Kingdom, a group of MPs have been told.

Representatives from Queen's University and the University of Ulster briefed Northern Ireland's MPs on the situation at Westminster on Wednesday.

They asked the politicians for their help in persuading the government to redress the "glaring inequalities" between the level of funding of university research in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.


It's absolutely critical that the two Northern Ireland universities get substantial additional funding

Professor John Hughes
Professor John Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development at the University of Ulster, said more funding was urgently required if Northern Ireland was to retain its best staff and students, and to attract inward investors.

"It's absolutely critical that the two Northern Ireland universities get substantial additional funding," Professor Hughes said.

"The contribution we make to economic regeneration is far higher than in other regions of the UK. We contribute something like 40% of R&D expenditure here, and that's an indication of just how crucial this issue is."

Professor Hughes said that there had been a long-standing underfunding of research and development in Northern Ireland's universities.

"Our calculations show that whereas research funding in Great Britain has increased by more than 20% over the last 10 years - in Northern Ireland it has declined by over 20%."

'Economic prosperity'

He praised the Scottish Parliament, saying it had shown itself to be very supportive of its universities.

"The politicians recognise the huge contribution made by the universities to the country's economic prosperity," said Professor Hughes.

"As a result, they've allocated substantial additional funds for research, as well as for innovation and technology transfer."

It is estimated that Northern Ireland's universities need an additional 30m a year to bring them up to the same level as other UK regions.

Without this increase, the universities fear key research staff will have to be laid off, with serious long-term consequences for the Northern Ireland economy.

See also:

30 May 02 | N Ireland
09 Nov 02 | N Ireland
14 Dec 01 | N Ireland
25 Sep 02 | N Ireland
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