HEPI report calls for a boost to UK research funding

A new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) 'How much is too much? Cross-subsidies from teaching to research in British universities' (HEPI Report 100) qhich is published today considers the scale and sustainability of university cross-subsidies and calls on Philip Hammond to boost research funding in the forthcoming Budget. 

The report, by Vicky Olive, was supported by the Association for Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) whose membership shares many of PraxisAuril's concerns in the areas of reesarch impact and Knowlege Exchange. In a Foreword to the report, David Coombe, Director of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) and Director of Research at the LSE, emphasises the need for long-term sustaibaility in research funding:

‘It is my hope this report will act as a catalyst in bringing together all the key parties to map out a more sustainable funding framework for the future. The quality of UK research is second to none; it makes a significant contribution to the future of humanity and our planet, to growth and productivity, to quality of life and wellbeing and it makes a significant contribution to the careers of academics and the reputation of institutions. It is critical that its funding should be managed on a sustainable basis if we are to retain our place in the future.’

PraxisAuril welcomes the findings. Knowledge Exchange depends on a broad base of excellent basic and applied reserach and that research activity and infrastructure must be sustainably funded for the long-term if the pipeline that leads to commercialisation breakthroughs is to be maintained. The Government's Industrial Strategy puts high expectations on universities: to generate highly innovative companies and support their growth, to act as regional economic anchors , and to deliver a skilled workforce. These expectations need to be supported with appropriate public funding to ensure that there is a sustainable and durable research base and also to 'de-risk' external collaboration and commercialisation.  

Tamsin Mann, Head of Policy at PraxisAuril said: "What this report demonstrates forcibly is how universities manage their resources from diverse income streams for the benefit of the whole institution, whereas government policy and initiatives have a tendency to focus on a single part of the university system at a time;  this has been particularly true of KE which is oftent regarded as a 'third leg' stand alone activity. In terms of KE specifically, the Dowling Review (2015) urged universities to focus on long-term collaborations rather than short-term income but universities need to be sure that they can meet the costs of basic research and research infrastructure and so naturally will look for places to generate income, including from KE. With the proposed introduction of the KEF it would be sensible to take the same rounded approach and appreciate the overall ramifications of teaching, research and KE interventions. The creation of UKRI may help with this."  

The report is available on the HEPI website