More scientists mean bigger slice of funding pie for Wales

Welsh universities need 600 more additional academics in STEMM subjects to get their ‘fair’ share of research cash

May 21, 2015

 

Source: Alamy

Shortfall: a study claims 621 researchers are needed across STEMM subjects

Welsh universities need more than 600 additional academics in science and technology if they are to secure a bigger share of UK research council funding, a report says.

A study published on 21 May by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education finds that Welsh institutions have consistently missed a Cardiff government target for them to win 5 per cent of research council funding, roughly equivalent to the country’s population share in the UK.

The proportion of funding secured by Welsh universities has fallen to about 3 per cent and the report says that this has led to concerns about research performance.

But the criticism is unfair, according to authors Peter Halligan, chief executive of the Learned Society of Wales, and Louise Bright, the Leadership Foundation’s associate director for Wales.

Government efforts to encourage institutional mergers and increased collaboration appear to have benefited research quality, they say, highlighting that Wales matched or outperformed the rest of the UK in the research excellence framework.

More than 75 per cent of all Welsh submissions were rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. Similarly Welsh academics’ success rate in grant applications is “not dissimilar” to the UK-wide average, the report adds.

But reforms have failed to address the underlying issue of research capacity, Professor Halligan and Dr Bright say. And the shortage of researchers making applications for funding in the first place appears to be concentrated in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics, where the biggest grants are available.

Using Higher Education Statistics Agency data to calculate how many additional academics would be needed at Welsh universities to achieve 4.8 per cent of each discipline’s UK-wide research workforce – to match Wales’ UK population share – Professor Halligan and Dr Bright say an extra 621 researchers are needed across STEMM subjects.

Key areas of shortfall include clinical medicine (242), physics (84) and mechanical engineering (78).

A £50 million government fund designed to attract top researchers to Wales should help to address the shortfall, the report says.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Senior Lecturer: Architecture (Cultural Content) NORWICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
Head of Department of Physics ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY
Research Assistant LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in University Study Skills UNIVERSITY OF HAFR AL BATIN

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest