Controversy has emerged in the wake of an Irish Times article that revealed that UCD received €2 million in funding from Tullow Oil for academic positions in the field of petroleum geoscience. The funding was given in exchange for short-term educational courses for some of Tullow’s overseas regulatory officials in Kenya, Ethiopia and Suriname. 

The source of the current controversy is an FOI request sent by Green Party Councillor Séafra Ó Faoláin, which revealed these interests. Notably, UCD had denied having any interests in fossil fuels in a separate FOI request from 2017. 

When Cllr. Ó Faoláin emailed UCD President Andrew Deeks with a series of concerns, Deeks answered none and referred Ó Faoláin to the “Creating a Sustainable Global Society” section of the University’s Rising to the Future strategy document. The document does not make any reference to issues of academic funding from fossil fuel interests. 

In support of Cllr. Ó Faoláin, UCDSU Welfare Officer Ruairí Power tweeted “Great FOI work here. Selling off Higher Education institutes to the highest bidders has consequences. This is not very “building a sustainable global society” of you @ucddublin”.   

According to the terms of the agreement, the academics giving the aforementioned courses received “no financial contribution” and covered their own travel expenses. Aidan Heavey, CEO of Tullow Oil at the time of the deal, was a graduate of the University and had previously sat on the Graduate Business School’s advisory board. 

Jack McGee – Reporter