External funding environment
(18 March 2016)
Information on future developments
The external research funding climate continues to be challenging. However, recent funding announcements from RCUK and HEFCE indicate that we can expect some degree of stability in the immediate future. RCUK spending allocations were on Friday 4 March, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has released a headline briefing paper.
Allocations for our main RCUK funders (ESRC/AHRC) are slightly ahead of the 2010 settlement, and both will receive combined £35m for the new ‘Global Challenge fund’. Our share of the RCUK total budget remains small relative to the science funding bodies. However, overall, this is a positive outcome for RCUK and demonstrates the Government’s continued support for research at a time of significant public sector budget reductions in other areas. The Councils will collectively publish the RCUK Strategic Priorities and Spending Plan, and a detailed Delivery Plan will be published in mid-April.
Details of the HEFCE grant letter were also published on 9 March, outlining the allocations the Government will make to the Council for the coming financial year, and the policy priorities it will be expected to pursue. In terms of research funding, the Government has reaffirmed its view that the excellence of the UK’s research base is internationally recognised, and is crucial in supporting sustainable economic growth and enhanced productivity. With this in mind, the Government has confirmed that the science budget will continue to be ring fenced through to 2019/20, and committed to maintain dual support and quality-related funding during this period.
Other key headline announcements for research in the HEFCE grant letter:
- HEFCE to lead on the implementation of the Nurse review of research councils and the move to transfer quality-related research (QR) to the new body, Research UK
- HEFCE to commit to develop proposals for REF 2021 in light of Stern review of the Research Excellence Framework
- Commitment to continue advancing Open access and working with Jisc to increase availability of outputs without increasing costs to the sector