Post-92s hit hardest by quality-related shake-up

New universities in England will be hit with the biggest proportional cuts in their quality-related research budgets during the coming academic year as funding is further concentrated on international excellence.

March 17, 2011

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has reduced the weighting given in its QR funding formula to research rated 2* - "internationally recognised" - by the 2008 research assessment exercise. This will deliver the £45 million in savings required after the 1.1 per cent cut in its research grant.

Meanwhile, half of the remaining £70 million of QR funding previously allocated to 2* research has been reallocated on the basis of 3* ("internationally excellent") and 4* ("world-leading") activity.

According to provisional figures released this week, most universities will lose some research funding.

The biggest cash losses will be borne by members of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities, which will lose £14.6 million between them.

However, that accounts for 1.5 per cent of the group's research income. By contrast, the Million+ group of post-92 universities will lose 10.5 per cent of its research funding, while GuildHE institutions will lose 17.5 per cent overall.

The Russell Group's overall share of the £1.6 billion in research funding distributed by Hefce - including £1.1 billion of QR funding - will increase, from 62.6 per cent to 63.5 per cent, while every other mission group will see its share slip slightly.

The QR weighting change is Hefce's response to the government's grant letter last December, which said that the funding council should "selectively" fund on the basis of internationally excellent research.

Hefce has indicated that next year's allocations will take no account of 2* research; it intends to consult on how it should reallocate the extra £35 million this will free up.

Some of the changes in the funding levels of institutions can be explained by fluctuations in research income from charity and business sources, which Hefce tops up.

But most of the biggest reductions will be seen among post-92s such as Southampton Solent University, which will lose 23.6 per cent of its research income, and Bath Spa University, which will lose 18.2 per cent.

However, the University of Bedfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University will both see increases of nearly 2 per cent.

University Alliance institutions, which are also mostly post-92s, will lose 8.4 per cent of their research income from Hefce, with the University of the West of England losing the most (13.2 per cent).

Institutions from the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities will lose 3.6 per cent of their research income, with the School of Oriental and African Studies faring worst with a 9.8 per cent cut.

The University of Birmingham, which loses 4.9 per cent, is the worst affected Russell Group institution.

The biggest recipient of research income from Hefce, the University of Oxford, will benefit from a 2.4 per cent rise; its £129 million allocation is more than that of the Million+, GuildHE and University Alliance groups combined.

The research income of Imperial College London and the London School of Economics will also rise.

Percentage falls by grouping
Mission group % share of %3Cbr /%3Eresearch grant %3Cbr /%3E2010-11Amount (£) 2010-11 % share of %3Cbr /%3Eresearch grant %3Cbr /%3E2011-12 Amount (£) 2011-12 Change in cash terms (£)% change
GuildHE 0.3 4,376,355 0.23,608,473 -767,882 -17.5
Million+2.844,775,8822.640,079,175-4,696,707 -10.5
University Alliance 5.5 87,983,0845.2 80,622,756-7,360,328-8.4
Not affiliated9.5152,752,300 9.4 146,400,478-6,351,822 -4.2
1994 Group 19.3309,577,79719.1298,286,258-11,291,539-3.6
Russell Group 62.6 1,003,847,56563.5989,282,412-14,565,153 -1.5

David Sweeney, director of research, innovation and skills at Hefce, said: "We are continuing to recognise and reward excellent activity wherever it is found - but the funding looks more critically at that excellent activity."

Meanwhile, Hefce has also announced that it expects to fund research capital projects to the tune of £549 million over the next four financial years, beginning with £111 million in 2011-12 and rising to £159 million in 2014-15.

It will be distributed according to a formula based on each institution's total research income.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com.

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