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Posted: 15 October 2007

UCD awarded funding for four major Graduate Research Education Programmes

UCD achieved outstanding results in the recently announced Graduate Research Education Programmes funded by The Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology by winning four of the five programmes awarded.

A total of 27 eligible proposals were received from across the higher education sector in Ireland by the funding bodies and these were assessed by an international committee of 11 panel members.  The national Graduate Research Education Programme is a new approach to multi-annual funding postgraduate and doctoral programmes in the humanities, sciences, engineering and technology in Ireland.  Under the terms of the GRE Programme the total funding available for 2007 Scheme will be €6 - 10 million.  

The overarching objectives of the Graduate Research Education Programme are to bring together groupings of expertise focussed on high quality research, to provide a more formalised and structured approach to research education and career formation for doctoral and masters scholars and to 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 programmes all involve collaborations with other HEI and /or bodies involved in professional accreditation.

Professor Paul Devereux, Professor of Economics and Geary Research Fellow leads the Graduate Programme for the Quantitative Social Sciences along withProfessor Patrick Paul Walsh, Professor of International Development Studies (SPIRe) and Geary Research Fellow.  Dr Ciara Whelan of the School of Economics played a substantial role in the formulation of the proposal application.  The UCD programme involves collaboration with the Institute for International Integration Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

Professor Denis Shiels, Professor of Clinical Bioinformatics from the UCD Conway Institute is the PI on the successful proposal for a PhD programme in Bioinformatics and Computational Biomedicine.  The large UCD interdisciplinary team spans statistics, computer Science, mathematics, bioinformatics, experimental biology and medicine.   The programme will be located in the Conway Institute and in the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory.  They are joined by colleagues from Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University of Glasgow.

Professor Eugene O’Brien, Director, UCD Urban Institute Ireland leads the PhD programme in Sustainable Development.  The programme is organised into interdisciplinary groups embracing planning, environmental policy, engineering, energy and ecology and crosses the Colleges of Human Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering, Mathematical & Physical Sciences.  The collaborations partners are based in Trinity College Dublin and Queens University Belfast.

Professor Gerardine Meaney, Professor of Cultural Theory, UCD School of English, Drama and Film, leads the graduate programme in Gender, Culture and History.  Spanning history, literature and visual culture, this programme draws on collaboration with colleagues in University of Limerick, Queen’s University Belfast.

UCD is also a collaborator in the fifth successful programme funded thorugh the GREP, the International Centre for Graduate Education in Micro and Nano Engineering, led by University College Cork.

The graduate education programmes proposed were each of a high calibre, and the committee made substantial efforts in discriminating between the most highly ranked.  Ultimately, a number of proposals had to be selected for final consideration based on a number of factors.  These factors include the overall assessment criteria applying to this programme, the funding levels available and the most meaningful progress that could be supported within a clear policy context.

Since the programme was originally conceived, substantial new developments have taken place: PRTLI Cycle 4 and SIF 1 awards have been announced and as mentioned, SIF 2 has also now opened for proposals.   IRCSET, working in close consultation with the Higher Education Authority and the IRCHSS, will now study ways in which the wider funding context can be clarified prior to promoting new competitions in this area.

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