Heavy hitters winded by huge budget cuts

March 8, 2002

Research universities, medical schools and Oxford head the list of casualties in today's funding allocations. Alison Goddard reveals the RAE victims.

Medical schools, research universities and even the University of Oxford have lost out under the decision not to fully fund the research assessment exercise, according to the funding allocations published today.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Institute of Cancer Research, Cranfield University and St George's Hospital Medical School have all seen devastating cuts to their research budgets.

The universities of Hull and Bradford and Queen Mary, University of London, have also been hit hard - along with Keele, Greenwich, Sussex and Umist. Some of the art schools and music colleges have suffered too.

Funding chiefs had earlier revealed that they planned to maintain the average unit of funding for the highest-rated 5* departments in real terms while cutting funding to grade 5 by 15 per cent, grade 4 by 30 per cent and grade 3b by 70 per cent.

The full effects of this decision - which applies only to England, and the effects of which are unlikely to be so severe in Scotland - are now clear.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine faces a 20 per cent cut to its research grant, which will fall to £4.7 million.

It will see its cash fall by only 2 per cent in real terms next year because the funding council will subsidise the school to the tune of £1.3 million to help maintain stability. However, it will lose this subsidy the year after and, if more money for research is not forthcoming in the spending review, the 20 per cent cut will persist.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine entered more than 190 staff in two units of assessment. Both units maintained a grade 5, indicating that up to half the work was internationally excellent and the rest was nationally excellent.

But most entries in one of these units of assessment - clinical laboratory sciences - were rated highly, which may have forced more departments to share the same pot of money. The school's research grant represents more than half its income from the funding council because it does not teach undergraduates.

The Institute of Cancer Research more than maintained its standing in the 2001 RAE. Yet its research funding - which accounts for more than 80 per cent of its funding council grant - will fall by 12 per cent to £8.6 million.

The funding council will give the institute a £1.2 million subsidy next year, but, again, if it does not win more money for research in the spending review, it will lose both the subsidy and the research cash the year after.

In the 2001 exercise, the institute kept its top grade 5* - indicating that more than half the work was internationally excellent and the rest was nationally excellent - for two of its six entries. It added a third grade 5 to its existing pair from the 1996 exercise and held on to a grade 3a for nursing. It entered 112 staff, up from 99 on the previous occasion - yet its research grant will still fall.

Cranfield University has seen its research grant from the funding council plummet by 40 per cent to £4.7 million. It will receive a £3 million subsidy for one year only. Its total research grant represents a quarter of its income from the funding council.

Cranfield submitted the work of 240 people to five units of assessment in last year's RAE. More than 100 of these researchers worked on mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering in a single unit of assessment. It slipped from a grade 5 in 1996 to grade 4 in 2001 in this unit. The university maintained its grade 4 in three other units of assessment and slipped to a grade 3b in another.

St George's Hospital Medical School faces a 15 per cent cut to its research budget, which will fall to £3.4 million. The funding council subsidy is £520,000. The research grant accounts for more than 20 per cent of the school's funding council grant.

Funding chiefs have promised that the reversal of reductions in the unit of resource for 5 and 4-rated departments will be a priority for any funding increase in the 2002 spending review.

Sir Howard Newby, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: "We are committed to building on these excellent results - which demonstrate higher levels of world-class research - and will continue to argue strongly for additional funding."

Sitting pretty at the other end of the table is the London Business School. More than 80 per cent of the money it receives from the funding council is for research - and it has just increased that grant by almost half as much again.

In 2001, it submitted more than 100 staff to the business and management studies unit of assessment - up from 87 in 1996 - and maintained its 5* grade. As a result, its research grant from the funding council rises 48 per cent to £3.3 million.

The London School of Economics also did well, increasing its research grant income by a quarter. It will get £11.9 million, more than half the money it receives from the funding council.

In the 2001 exercise, the LSE entered more than 430 people - up 8.5 per cent - in 13 units of assessment. Performance improved in six, was maintained in a further six and slipped in just one.

Other success stories include the London Institute and Royal Holloway, University of London. The universities of Southampton, Surrey, Durham, York, Manchester and Bristol all saw significant boosts to their substantial research grants, as did Birkbeck College, London.

There were mixed fortunes for the big four research universities - which will each receive more than £60 million for research - following the decision not to fully fund the outcome of the research assessment exercise.

The University of Cambridge has ousted Oxford from the top of the table in absolute terms. It will get £67.8 million for research - up 5.5 per cent on last year.

Next comes University College London, which will get £66.8 million, up 3.9 per cent on last year.

The University of Oxford will receive £64.9 million for research next year, down 0.1 per cent, while Imperial College, London, will get £60.7 million, an increase of 7.8 per cent.

The four most research-intensive institutions share .7 per cent of the total research grant, down from 28.1 per cent last year. The ten most research-intensive institutions share 48 per cent of the grant, the same as last year.

Pulling power attracts the extra cash

The most popular old universities - particularly those with medical schools - will receive extra cash for attracting more students, today's funding allocations show.

Some 21 institutions will each get more than £1 million to expand provision. More than 70 per cent of these are old universities with medical schools, including the universities of Nottingham, Warwick, Exeter, Durham, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield. All these institutions also rank among those most popular with students, as measured by the number of applications they receive.

The University of Nottingham will get more than £4 million to pay for the extra students expected to enrol this autumn. Applications through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service are already up by 17.5 per cent. By the January 15 deadline this year, it had received some 46,700 applications, making it the country's most popular university for applicants.

The Open University will get £3.6 million. The university is attracting more school-leavers - the number of people aged between 18 and 25 taking OU degrees has doubled in the past five years to 11,360 and young people now account for almost 10 per cent of the university's provision.

Proportionally, the largest increase will go to Canterbury Christ Church University College, which will receive £3.2 million to expand student numbers. It aims to boost numbers on its new Thanet campus from 100 to 1,000 over five years. It has some 11,000 students overall, half of whom are part time. Applications for full-time places were down 5.9 per cent this year.

Higher education in Leeds is blossoming, with both the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University seeing plenty of applicants. The former received 44,800 applications by the January 15 deadline (up 8.7 per cent) and the latter 23,000 (down 2.7 per cent). Both will see extra money for extra students, but the funding does not quite match the demand - the University of Leeds will get £1.4 million for additional students next year, while Leeds Metropolitan University will get £2.9 million.

The University of Warwick will get an extra £2.4 million after seeing applications jump 15.5 per cent to 29,500. It operates a medical school with the University of Leicester, where applications for its graduate entry course were up by 29 per cent to 755. A spokesman said: "The idea of getting into medicine faster is popular with government and also with graduate students who don't want to spend more time in debt and can cut a year from the course."

The University of Exeter will get an extra £2.3 million after seeing applications rise 12 per cent to 20,000. The University of Exeter is launching the Peninsula Medical School with the University of Plymouth - which also received £1.9 million for extra students - and the National Health Service in the Southwest in the autumn.

The University of Durham will get £2.1 million after applications leapt 16 per cent to 23,700. Medicine does not account for this surge in popularity, however, as applications for the subject at the University of Durham come through the University of Newcastle. But the University of Newcastle will also receive £1.3 million for extra students. Applications to each institution jumped by more than 16 per cent to more than 23,000 apiece.

Overall, the teaching grant includes £66 million for additional students, including £13 million for increased numbers of medical students. Some 23,000 more student places will be funded next year. This year, the total head count is predicted to rise by 37,700, compared with the government's planned growth of 41,000.

At its January board meeting, the funding council decided to abandon the maximum student number - a mechanism used to control student numbers by penalising institutions that over-recruited - to encourage expansion. But it still intends to impose penalties on institutions that have recruited above their maximum number this academic year.

Some people are concerned that removing the cap gives old universities free rein to poach students from the new universities, hitting at the latter's strength at widening participation. A spokesman for the funding council said that controls over student numbers could be delivered through the teaching funding method, which enables core funding for teaching in each institution to roll forward from year to year, with an uplift for inflation and any additional student numbers allocated, provided institutions stay within the "tolerance band" of plus or minus 5 per cent for funding.

The growth in student numbers is determined through an annual bidding exercise. Last September, institutions were asked to bid for more students. The aim is to widen participation in higher education while increasing opportunities for students, boosting vocationally oriented provision and supporting the expansion of high quality in learning and teaching.

Funding chiefs listed supplementary criteria on which bids for additional student numbers would be judged. Widening participation should be achieved through increasing the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The bids should help deliver foundation degrees and support New Technology Institutes.

All bids were supposed to:

  • Contribute to national priorities for higher education and/or regional or sub-regional economic strategies
  • Enhance student employability
  • Give more students the opportunity to undertake high-quality study at institutions of their choice
  • Address unmet student demand.


Institution in order of significance of gain or loss relative to funding council income

Total research

Moderation of teaching and research

Change on last year

Research as  proportion of total grant

          WINNERS London Business School £3,295,361 0 48.3% 83.9% The London Institute £5,999,850 0 179.2% 13.0% London School of Economics £11,945,666 0 24.6% 53.8% Royal Holloway, University of London £9,426,576 0 37.7% 32.9% University of Southampton £30,965,099 0 24.5% 36.2% University of Surrey £14,179,884 0 21.5% 38.8% University of Durham £15,939,398 0 .2% 26.4% University of York £14,544,637 0 17.2% 37.0% University of Manchester £38,929,069 0 17.9% 33.8% Royal College of Art £1,989,117 0 34.4% 17.5%           LOSERS London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine £4,691,417 £1,289,219 -21.6% -51.0% Institute of Cancer Research £8,556,017 £1,246,143 -12.3% -80.7% Canfield University £4,668,054 £2,983,806 -39.7% -24.8% St George's Hospital Medical School £3,425,229 £519,743 -15.7% -21.4% University of Hull £5,064,625 £740,522 -19.2% -12.6% University of Bradford £5,439,649 £521,173 -13.8% -15.9% Queen Mary, University of London £12,645,553 £828,056 -10.0% -21.6% Keele University £4,834,720 £237,964 -8.7% -21.3% University of Greenwich £1,940,965 £842,697 -45.4% -3.8% Umist £12,821,087 £336,521 -5.0% -34.7% University of Sussex £11,761,037 £206,030 -4.9% -28.8%

Full tables: English funding allocations 2003/2003

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments