Level funding but half the staff

July 27, 2001

The University of Greenwich hopes to maintain levels of research income at its troubled Natural Resources Institute despite cutting staff levels by half.

Projected income for the NRI next year is £12.6 million - nearly the same as this year. But the number of scientists is to be cut by up to 110, out of a total of 214. The university said the staff who were leaving had been under-commissioned, while those staying dealt with most of the contracts.

Greenwich's reputation as the top new university for research is largely because of the NRI, which contributes about two-thirds of its research income. Vice-chancellor Rick Trainor said: "We only anticipate a minimal fall in research grants and contracts income as a result of adjustments at the NRI."

In a statement, the university explained how this was possible. "The selection criteria for redundancy were designed to retain the skills of research-active staff within the institution," it said. "Those staff who are leaving are principally those whose work had a different focus and those who were under-commissioned."

Most of the NRI's funding comes from organisations such as the European Union, the World Bank and the UK's Department for International Development.

Much of this is channelled through Natural Resources International, a company owned by Greenwich, Imperial College and the University of Edinburgh. The firm bids for research contracts, which it passes to the NRI and other consultants.

Andrew Gurr, the company's chief executive, told The THES that for the NRI to maintain its research income with half the staff would be "possible, but difficult to achieve".

He said: "If you take the average utilisation rate for the staff, they were under-utilised. The institute is clearly trying to look for a very high rate of work for those who are left. I suppose it is possible that most of the money that comes through research contracts to them would still come to them."

There would inevitably be some fall-off, he added, "but I would have thought it would be nothing like half".

NRI FUNDING: approximate projections for next year Dept for Int Development: 50% (£6.3m) Other international funders (including EU and World Bank): 25% (£3.15m) Hefce: 12% (£1.5m) Other: 13% (£1.6m) Source: University of Greenwich news team

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