Academia must convince BIS on capital funding for research

UK universities must form business partnerships to demonstrate the need for public investment. By Elizabeth Gibney

May 16, 2013

Universities need to make it clearer to government how funds will be spent

Universities that are looking for more capital funding need to present clearer cases to government for how they would use the money, a senior higher education official has said.

David Sweeney, director for research, innovation and skills at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said universities should be “bashing down the door” of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to highlight potential projects they were missing out on.

“Institutions need to say more, not just about the benefits to themselves, but to the businesses they are engaged with,” he said. “Convincing the government means finding really good case studies which show businesses saying ‘I can’t do the research and development I want to do because you don’t have the equipment’.”

Capital funding was cut by an estimated £1.7 billion in the 2010 spending review. The government has since replaced around £1.5 billion of this in piecemeal investments, primarily targeted at eight broad technology areas and often matched by funding from outside the sector.

For instance, since last October, 15 projects have been funded through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, for which universities must secure private funding worth at least double the public contribution.

Mr Sweeney said building long-term relationships with other universities and business partners would allow for a quick response to government- backed capital funding calls.

Steven Hill, head of research policy at Hefce, said that leveraged funding was emerging as the main route for capital expenditure, and that much of the responsibility for finding such partnerships sat with universities.

Both were speaking after a policy forum on research infrastructure and capital, organised by the 1994 Group of small research-intensive universities and held in London on 2 May.

Alex Bols, executive director of the 1994 Group, said the changing nature of capital funding highlighted the importance of institutions forming strategic relationships to “best take advantage of funding as it arises”.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest