Public Competitive Funding

27.2 % of funding of research carried out in HEIs in the UK is contributed by the research councils.[1] They are increasingly under pressure to justify the research they fund with public money. Therefore, national priorities determined by government play a role in research councils establishing their funding priorities and a tendency towards larger grants in strategic areas rather than smaller grants has been observed.[2] In the recent Nurse Review it has been encouraged that they focus even more on business engagement and strategic investment into government priorities.[3] Research councils funding is project/programme specific and distributed on a competitive basis. The assessment of which projects will receive funding is undertaken by peer review. Funding through research councils has gained in importance in the last couple of decades in comparison to HEFCE funding.[4]

As mentioned above (Sect., HEIs also receive limited governmental funding from other institutions including ministries, local authorities and the National Health Service (NHS). Funding from these bodies is often more similar to research contracts.[5]

  • [1] Office for National Statistics 2016, Table 1.
  • [2] UCU 2014, pp. 1, 10. In this respect the academic furore following the ‘order’ that the Artsand Humanities Research Council study the government’s ‘big society’ policy made the news(Boffey D, ‘Academic fury over order to study the big society’ (27 March 2011) Accessed 29March 2011).
  • [3] Nurse 2015, p. 5 seq, 25, 32 seq. In this connection the merging of the research councils andbetter links between different strands of funding has equally been submitted (ibid p. 33).
  • [4] On the research councils see Berry 2010, pp. 5, 27, 31; Candemir and Meyer 2010, p. 510;UCU 2014, pp. 1, 10 seq; RCUK (2016) RCUK Funding. 4 August 2016.
  • [5] Kelly et al. 2014, p. 9; University of Sheffield (2016) Funding of Research in UK HigherEducation. Accessed 4 August 2016.
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