Last month the 1994 Group’s policy report, “The importance of the HE research base in addressing major global challenges and ensuring the UK’s future prosperity”. was published. The report argues in favour of the dual funding system and warns against spreading QR funding too thinly across the HE sector. Several case studies are provided to illustrate the impact of QR funded research in tackling “global challenges”. Whilst acknowledging the need for collaboration and building links with business and industry, the report makes clear that the research base in the Arts & Humanities must not be ignored.
Investment must be made in new ideas and world leading research in the arts, humanities and social sciences, in addition to STEM subjects and medicine. Innovation draws on the entirety of the research base and, accordingly, the whole academy must be sustainable financially.
There is also a warning against Hefce’s new REF proposals placing too much emphasis on economic impact of research:
As part of REF, it is also important that the Funding Councils recognise the widest range of impacts that excellent research might have across different disciplinary areas, rather than focusing overly on economic impact interpreted in its narrowest sense.
The report urges the Government to “develop a national research policy that will target funding and support mechanisms” and makes the following recommendations:
- Increase Government investment in research on a longer-term basis to enable universities to retain the scope to respond flexibly and rapidly to emerging challenges.
- Protect and enhance QR funding to allow universities autonomy and the capacity to invest in new and emerging areas, grow and support new talent, protect declining but important subjects, and initiate collaborations with new academic and business partners.
- Distribute QR funding according to excellence, while ensuring critical mass in world class research areas within our research intensive universities.
- Support increased collaboration between universities and businesses at a regional, national and global level to build on signifi cant advances made on enterprise development that have been enabled by the Higher Education Innovation Fund
- Complement investment in STEM subjects and medicine with continuing investment in new ideas and world-leading research in arts, humanities and social sciences, as innovation draws on the entirety of the research base.
- Ensure our future intellectual sustainability by providing the necessary resources to train the world-leading researchers of the future.
The report, and several case studies illustrative of the impact of QR funded research in meeting global challenges, are available from: http://www.1994group.ac.uk/researchenterpriseexcellence.php