Ireland matches EU for PhDs but lags in R&D spend


27 Jun 2006

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According to a new Central Statistics Office (CSO) report — Measuring Ireland’s Progress, 2005 — the proportion of mathematics, science and technology PhDs awarded here matched the EU average exactly in 2003.

The report also found that despite a slight increase in female graduates in science and technology subjects a few years back, we still have considerably more male graduates than female graduates in these disciplines.

The proportion of mathematics, science and technology PhDs awarded here in 2003 and 2002 were 0.6 and 0.5 PhDs per 1,000 population aged 25-34, the same as the EU average. In 2001, we were slightly above the EU average of 0.5 with a figure of 0.6 PhDs.

No adjustment was made for graduates travelling abroad to foreign universities to take their PhDs nor for foreign students taking their PhDs in Ireland.

Sweden had the highest proportion of PhD graduates in these disciplines with 1.5 PhDs awarded per 1,000 people aged 25-34. It was followed closely by its Scandinavian neighbour Finland and then Switzerland and Romania, who each had one mathematics, science and technology PhD awarded per 1,000 people aged 25-34. Latvia and Bulgaria brought up the rear with ratings of 0.1.

The CSO report also referred to the fact that there have been more male graduates in science and technology subjects than female graduates since the start of this century. In 2000, the proportion of male graduates was approximately 3pc (29.8 per 1,000 males aged 20-29). While this decreased to just over 2.5pc (26.4 per 1,000 males aged 20-29) in 2002 it shot up again in 2004 to more than 3pc (31.6 per 1,000 males aged 20-29).

The numbers of female graduates in science and technology subjects saw a decrease between 2000 and 2002 — from 18.5 to 14.6 — but this lifted to 16.8 in 2003, dropping to 14.5 in 2004, substantially below the 2000 level.

Other innovation-related findings included in the report is that there was a significant increase in the number of applications made to the European Patent Office from Ireland between 1994 and 1999. Applications started dropping again between 2001 and 2003 and averaged at 80 applications per million of population between 1999 and 2002.

The CSO report also states that Ireland spent considerably less in research and development (R&D) as a percentage of GDP or GNI than the EU average between 1995 and 2004. In both 1994 and 2004 we spent 1.43pc of GNI on R&D, compared to EU averages of 1.85pc in 1994 and 1.90pc in 2004). The percentage of GDP spent on R&D in the same time frame actually decreased — from 1.31pc in 1994 to 1.20 pc in 2004.

By Elaine Larkin