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

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard