Trinity received €100.6m in research funding last year, marking an increase from the €74m raised four years ago, and a 33% increase over the last five years. Provost Patrick Prendergast outlined the funding figures at the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) Strategy Day Workshop last week.
According to the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, Trinity also has a revenue of €85m, securing its rank above the second-placed University College Dublin (UCD), which raised revenue of €56m. According to Prendergast, this can be attributed to “the research culture of Trinity, and the quality of our academic and professional staff”.
In addition, Trinity has won half of all Irish European Research Council grants, which currently stands at seven of fourteen grants. Trinity is also the fourth most successful university in obtaining these grants per academic staff, behind Cambridge, Oxford, and Imperial College London. However, Trinity is ranked 14 of 23 in obtaining League of European Research grants.
When speaking about the figures, Prendergast argued that “when it comes to the aspiration voiced by the Minister ‘to have the best education system in Europe by 2026’, Trinity’s research success is obviously central to achieving that aspiration”. He also believed that Trinity had “earned the right to be heard on the vital issue of how to best fund research”.
Earlier this year, Trinity was ranked 33rd globally out of more than 1,500 institutions for funding received under the Horizon 2020 programme. At the time, this stood at €72.6 million, and was more than €25 million ahead of the next highest institution.
Trinity was also ranked 46th in the world when private companies, public bodies, and research organisations were included. This ranking included 17,000 bodies, with ranked organisations coming from over 170 countries. Contributing to this ranking, Trinity saw an income of €22 million from a collaboration with Glanbia and UCD through the Horizon 2020 programme.
The Horizon 2020 programme is the eighth and most recent funding programme developed by the EU. The programme has a budget of €80bn, but is to be replaced by the FP9 programme in 2021. This programme is to run until 2027, and will invest a budget of €100bn in global research.
Prendergast spoke to the SFI the day after the launch of Budget 2019. He reserved much criticism and noted that he had “spent enough time in the past railing against failing state contribution”. However, he said that with the return of economic growth, it is “an opportunity now to do something new and forge a path for the next decade”.
He also cited Jim Miley, the Director General of the Irish Universities Association, who he believed had offered “some fairly sharp words”, with Miley calling the Budget “a patent nonsense for the Minister to continue to talk about having the ‘best education system in Europe by 2026’ while presiding over a funding regime that only provides a fraction of the funding per student that Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and other best countries in Europe do”.
Prendergast was speaking only three months before Trinity is to launch its first ever philanthropic campaign in an attempt to raise revenue within College. The plan, which was approved in 2016, is led by Trinity Development and Alumni.
Trinity has previously seen high levels of philanthropy, with 2,500 alumni making €73 million in pledged donations between 2015 and 2016. Philanthropic funding has allowed the developments of various Trinity developments, such as the 24-hour study hall and the Long Room Hub.