Data bites: EU research cash worth £715 million to UK in 2015-16

Latest Hesa finance data for UK universities show EU money was 12 per cent of all research grants

March 3, 2017
Source: iStock

European Union funding from programmes such as Horizon 2020 was worth a total of £715 million to UK universities in 2015-16, latest figures show.

This represented 12.1 per cent of all UK university funding from research grants and contracts in the last academic year, and 2.1 per cent of total income from all sources.

Such funding is firmly under the microscope because of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, with the country’s future participation in programmes such as Horizon 2020 in doubt.

English universities commanded the lion’s share of public EU research funding, with almost £600 million going to institutions in the country, representing a slightly higher share (12.5 per cent) of its total research grant income. Scottish universities have the lowest exposure to such EU funding as a share of their total research grant income, at 10.3 per cent (£82 million).

The figures come from the release of data on 2 March by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for income and spending by UK universities in the 2015-16 academic year. Overall, total income for the sector was £34.7 billion in 2015-16, with tuition fees (£16.8 billion) now representing 48.4 per cent of the money flowing to higher education providers in the country. This was an 8.2 per cent increase on the cash coming from tuition fees in 2014-15.


Total income for UK universities in 2015-16

In England, tuition fees were worth £14.8 billion in 2015-16, responsible for more than half the total income for the country’s universities. However, for Scotland, where fees are still free for domestic students and those coming from other parts of the European Union, the different balance between income sources is clear (see below). Tuition fees here accounted for just over £1 billion in income, while funding body grants were still worth more, at £1.14 billion.


 Income of HE providers in 2015-16 filtered for Scotland

University income in Scotland for 2015-16

Meanwhile, total expenditure by UK universities was £33 billion in 2015-16, of which £18 billion (54.6 per cent) was spent on staff costs.


Spending by universities in 2015-16

Staff costs are broken down in the Hesa statistics into various areas, with spending on staff in academic departments representing the largest amount (£9.6 billion), followed by staff costs for research grants and contracts (slightly more than £2.5 billion) and then administration and central services (slightly under £2.5 billion).

Breakdown of staff costs at UK universities for 2015-16

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