Universities will benefit from a raft of measures announced in chancellor Gordon Brown's budget designed to boost research, innovation and the knowledge economy, writes Alan Thomson.
With a £23 billion projected surplus this year, the Iron Chancellor was in bullish pre-election mode, announcing a series of tax-relief measures that will benefit universities' links with business.
Mr Brown signalled a continued commitment to higher education with his projection that the country will need an extra 2.5 million employees with degrees or higher degrees.
The chancellor announced:
- The abolition of the minimum-funding requirement for institutional investors, to encourage venture capital investments
- A tax relief on intellectual property and goodwill.
- An extension of the R&D tax credit to larger companies
- A tax credit for pharmaceuticals companies to accelerate research on diseases plaguing the developing world, such as Aids, malaria and tubercolosis
- A consideration of a tax credit for workplace training
- A capital-gains tax rate for all employees in all types of companies cut from 40p to 10p
- A doubling of the number of share options to £3 million, available to all employees
- A simplification of VAT for small businesses
- A simplification of small business corporate tax
- A change to VAT law to allow free museum entry
- An increase in the number of modern apprenticeships from 220,000 to 320,000
- £1 billion more for schools including £200 million more for the recruitment and retention of teachers.
Baroness Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "We are pleased that the chancellor has listened to what the universities have been saying about the importance of research and development to the economy."
But she urged the government to go a stage further and invest in the university teaching infrastructure by acting upon the recommendations in the Taylor report on university funding.