Science & Technology in Action

Higher Education Authority

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) was established on a statutory basis in 1971 with core functions relating to the furthering of development of higher education and research strategy, maintaining a continuous review of the demand and need for higher education, as well as assisting in the co-ordination of state investment in higher education that will be accessible to all.

One of the key elements managed by the HEA is the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), which is currently building a world class research infrastructure within Ireland. The core aim of the programme is to provide support for institutional strategies, inter-institutional collaboration, large research programmes and infrastructure (buildings and equipment), ensuring that institutions have the capacity to formulate and implement successful research strategies, which will give them critical mass and world-level capacity in key research areas. To date, €605m has been allocated to third-level institutions under Cycles one through three within the competitive programme.

2007 marks the fourth cycle of PRTLI, as influenced by the government’s Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (SSTI) as well as the National Development Plan (NDP), heralding a truly exciting time for research in the Irish higher education system on a national and international expansionary scale. Cycle 4 will continue this dedicated channel of funding until 2010.
One such programme that has been funded under PRTLI Cycle 3 is the Biosolids Research Programme at Sligo Institute of Technology. The researchers here carry out interdisciplinary research that focus on environmental issues, such as the treatment of waste, the removal of pathogens and the issue of sustainability. Also core to its activities is the treatment and disposal of municipal wastewater sludge’s which represents a microcosm of the overall sustainability issue.

You can find out more about the work of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) at www.hea.ie