The Irish Republic's government has been told that the cost of correcting a worrying slump in the student take-up of science will be €178m, plus recurring expenditure of €66m a year.
And it has been given this blunt warning: "Unless there is a major national effort to reverse the current fall-off, any other money spent on attracting overseas investment will largely be wasted."
The cost estimate and the warning were delivered by Dr Danny O'Hare, former president of Dublin City University and chair of a government-appointed taskforce to examine why students are turning their backs on science in record numbers, and to recommend solutions.
In the taskforce's report, Dr O'Hare stresses that the importance of the decline in the numbers taking science has been understated. It warned: "What is at stake is the ability of our young economy to continue to grow."
The number of Irish students taking science subjects at diploma/ certificate level has slumped by 43% in the past six years, underlining the scale of the problem.