Research councils lay their performance open to scrutiny

October 6, 2006

The research councils demonstrated their value for money this week in the first annual report of their performance published by the Office of Science and Innovation, writes Anthea Lipsett.

All eight research councils had to provide evidence of their work in maintaining the health of the UK research base and in improving the exploitation of universities' discoveries.

The latest data, for 2003-04, show a 64 per cent increase on 1999-2000 in gross income generated by universities from intellectual property.

There has been an 86 per cent increase in the number of patent applications made and a 146 per cent rise in the number granted annually compared with 1999-2000.

While UK university spin-offs fell in number from 197 to 167 in 2003-04, they employed more staff, up from 12,800 to 15,200 and their aggregate turnover rose from £358 million to £448 million.

In 2004-05, there were 119,450 higher degrees obtained in the UK, of which 15,775 were doctorates. Some 4 per cent of those with PhDs were unemployed in 2004-05.

In the same year, there was a brain drain of senior staff. Some 935 professors left UK higher education compared with 495 entering, while 1,790 senior lecturers and researchers left compared with the 1,340 that came into the sector.

But there was an influx of lecturers and researchers: 1,655 more lecturers and 175 more researchers entered the sector than left.

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