The HE sector has been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the Nurse Review of the UK Research Councils. This was released today, and thankfully has few surprises (unlike the recent HE Green Paper.). The review was commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and written by Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society taking in wide consultation from the Research Councils themselves and the HE sector. The link to it can be found below:
It broadly comes out in support of maintaining the current RCUK structure of maintaining 7 UK Research Councils, and establishment of an overarching body called ‘Research UK’ to give them a unified voice. Interestingly, it also recommends that future REF exercises are undertaken by this body and supports maintaining the dual support system of quality-related funding allocations alongside competitive research council funding. It doesn’t go as far as to state QR allocation should be taken from HEFCE but reading between the lines they will certainly have reduced influence if the recommendations are followed. It also talks about making faster funding decisions, keeping expert peer review and more transparency. All the recommendations seem to broadly support the conclusions of the triennial review of RCUK that was undertaken not that long ago, but with some potentially big changes behind the scenes at RCUK.
However with the McKinsey review of BIS looming we should maybe anticipate the opposite will be stated that RCUK should be cut, given smaller budgets and be put ‘all under one roof’ to save operating costs. That review will be no doubt be backed up with snazzy statistics that ‘more can be delivered with less’ that Whitehall will be very interested in.
Seems all is still to play for where future funding for UK Research is concerned ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, with no doubt a lot more debate to be had!