University vice-chancellors are being urged to write to ministers to stress the importance of maintaining the dual support system for funding university research.
Martin Harris, chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, has written to the prime minister after rumours surfaced earlier this month (THES, June 19) that the system of dual support, whereby university research is funded jointly through the higher education funding councils and the research councils, is under threat.
Now the CVCP has sent a circular to members saying it would be helpful if they could consider writing individually to ministers to reinforce its action.
The circular says that the CVCP has established there is "some truth" to the rumours and claims, in response, that the Department for Education and Employment, funding councils and others are making the case for maintaining and strengthening the dual support system.
Treasury officials are believed to be questioning, as part of the comprehensive spending review, the wisdom of the two-pronged funding system, which involves two government departments, the Department for Education and Employment and the Office of Science and Technology.
Universities currently receive undirected money from the funding councils to cover general laboratory equipment and infrastructure, as well as some discretionary money for basic research. They also receive grants from the research councils for specific projects. These, in the past, have not covered the full indirect costs of the research.
A Treasury spokeswoman was last week unable to confirm that dual support was being discussed.