Declining UK business research funding concentrated among elite

Two-thirds of funding over past three years went to just 20 institutions 

March 29, 2017
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Two-thirds of all UK business and management research income over the past three years went to just 20 business schools, as the decline in overall funding continued.

Of the £193 million that was invested in business school research between 2013-14 and 2015-16, £123 million (64 per cent) went to these 20 institutions, representing one in six of the Chartered Association of Business Schools’ members.

A Cabs report, based on Higher Education Statistics Agency data, also found that 28 per cent of the total funding over the three-year period (£54 million) went to the five highest-earning business schools.

Four of these are found in Russell Group institutions – in order of who received the largest sums, the University of Warwick, Imperial College London, and the universities of Manchester and Oxford – with the University of Sussex in fifth place. Russell Group institutions accounted for almost half (46 per cent) of all business and management research funding paid out between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

This concentration came as overall funding for business and management research continued to fall, dropping by £1.3 million (2.1 per cent) between 2014-15 and 2015-16. The five-year decline now stands at 8.2 per cent.

Simon Collinson, Cabs chair and deputy pro vice-chancellor for regional economic engagement at the University of Birmingham, described the overall drop in UK funding as “abysmal”. The concentration of funding “in fewer and fewer places” reflected attempts to get “economies of scale out of the money we’ve got”, he said.

Professor Collinson said that the strong performance of Russell Group institutions reflected in part their strong performance in winning international research grants. However, he said that it was not necessarily the case that such a large amount of funding would continue going to select institutions.

“I think [the] counter to that is probably in the area of industrial strategy and funding for apprenticeships; we’re seeing other parts of the portfolio of business schools really jumping on that money and those initiatives,” Professor Collinson said.

“If that gathers momentum, there’ll be non-Russell Group schools getting a lot more research and support funding to do the kind of engaged industrial strategy, apprenticeship-type stuff [that] the government wants.”

Andy Lockett, dean of Warwick Business School, said that funding councils were “becoming increasingly competitive and difficult sources to raise income from”.

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