Funding formula rejig benefits 4* researchers

March 18, 2010

Research funding that was redistributed to newer universities following the 2008 research assessment exercise will in part be returned to the traditional elite.

A handful of members of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities, along with some specialist colleges, are the biggest winners in terms of research funding in the 2010-11 grant allocations.

About half of the members of the Russell Group will see above-inflation increases in their recurrent grant for research after the Higher Education Funding Council for England rejigged the 2010-11 funding formula to favour "world-leading" research.

The largest overall rise goes to the University of Oxford, which will have its total research income increased by £7 million (a 6 per cent rise compared with this year). It is followed by University College London and the University of Cambridge, which are both up by more than £4 million (about 4 per cent).

To fund these increases, other institutions - particularly newer universities that had "pockets of research excellence" that were rewarded following RAE 2008 - face real-term cuts.

The University of Worcester and Staffordshire University will both lose more than 10 per cent of their research funding, although the overall sums involved are relatively small.

As Times Higher Education has reported, Hefce said that rejigging the funding formula to favour 4* work would "provide an initial step towards increased concentration".

An extra £32 million was added to the total research grant this year to counter the effects of inflation, which Hefce calculated at 2 per cent.

The total sum for 2010-11 is £1.6 billion, of which £1.1 billion is mainstream quality-related research funding.

Overall, the Russell Group universities' share will increase from 62.2 to 62.6 per cent.

Other university groupings - the 1994 Group, the University Alliance, Million+ and GuildHE - will all see their pots shrink by small amounts to accommodate the change.

However, not all of the newer members will lose out: the University of Huddersfield will gain £200,000 (up 9.9 per cent), while London Metropolitan University and the University of Bedfordshire both stand to gain more than 6 per cent.

Across the sector, 37 institutions will see higher-than-inflation rises in research funding, while 85 will face real-term losses.

Among the members of the Russell Group that will lose research income are the University of Liverpool, down £448,000 (1.2 per cent), and Newcastle University, down £170,000 (0.5 per cent).

Biggest changes in total research grant funding
Top five winners and losers in cash terms
Institution Total recurrent research funding 2010-11 (£)Total cash change from 2009-10*
University of Oxford 126,035,8 7,132,485
University College London 108,978,258 4,474,222
University of Cambridge 117,842,931 4,172,051
Imperial College London95,747,929 3,061,151
University of Manchester 84,617,452 2,035,570
University of Bradford 7,150,706 -259,772
University of the West of England 5,808,732 -282,898
University of East Anglia 16,129,509 -303,661
University of Plymouth 8,388,843 -350,916
University of Liverpool 37,618,860 -448,396
*Excludes transitional quality-related research funding (ie, moderation funding)

For a full breakdown of research allocations by institution, see related file box on right

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