The UK is not alone in trying to find the best way to fund and carry out research. The Times Higher looks at how other countries are tackling the problem.
The Japanese Government has enacted a series of reforms relating to, among other things, scientific research at universities and national laboratories.
First, it brought much of the spending on scientific research and development under the restructured Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Second, it denationalised and gave administrative independence and corporate status to the 89 national research laboratories and 99 national universities.
Third, it introduced competitive funding for research through the Centre of Excellence Programme.
The Government hopes to cut expenditures annually, reducing guaranteed bloc grants. At the same time, however, it hopes to increase and rationalise on a competitive basis grants-in-aid to the 30 universities and institutes designated as world class in vital areas of research, including life sciences, information technology, the environment, and nanotechnology and materials science.
Under its second Science and Technology Basic Plan, the Government is funding scientific and technological research with 1 per cent of gross domestic product a year during the period 2001-2005.
It has opened up the system of Government-funded research for unprecedented cooperative ventures among various combinations of public and private universities, former national research centres and for-profit corporations.
Earlier efforts to improve facilities at universities and medical colleges fell behind schedule and ran out of funds.
While new centres were established on many campuses, many other research facilities are in a state of disrepair. Moreover, faculty working under the old laboratory system, with cliques of associated postdoctorate researchers and lecturers under a professor with a chair, are reluctant to work at new centres without established networks or research results.
There has been disagreement over what sort of research is valued. Joint projects with companies tend to be set up to go quickly to market, which has caused some to complain about the abandonment of basic research.