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Researchers share €47m rescue package

Deal to help scientists and students heldback by coronavirus pandemic

The government has offered a rescue deal supporting researchers and doctoral students whose work has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The €47 million set aside for the package are part of a wider €168m programme to assist further and higher education institutions in cases where the pandemic is having a serious impact. Research minister Simon Harris announced the funding on 12 October.

The cash will help institutions make up for lost teaching and learning opportunities, closed labs, and the inability to access archives or interact with focus groups, the minister said. The funding would “protect both people and projects” at a time when research was needed more than ever in support of society and the economy, he said.

The money will be available for both universities and institutes of technology where operations had to be shut down or paused to enforce social distancing. For example, both Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin are to receive support worth around €8.2m each, the highest allocations given.

University College Cork will receive €7.8m and the University of Limerick €3.7m. The award for Cork Institute of Technology is €725,000, while €645,000 went to Institute of Technology Carlow.

A total of 17 higher education institutions will receive funding under the programme, managed by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority. The funding was essential because of the importance of research, the Harris said. “Now more than ever, we need research, innovation and ingenuity.”

Alan Wall, the head of the Higher Education Authority, said the money would afford protection to Ireland’s research, development and innovation activities. For example, it would help researchers coming to the end of their contracts but who had been unable to access on-campus facilities because of the pandemic.