Research councils ‘should develop metrics’ to measure success

But BIS review of system says all seven councils should be retained

April 18, 2014

Research councils should develop “quantitative metrics” to evaluate how successful they are for accountability purposes, according to the latest three-yearly review of the system.

The review found that some aspects of research council governance require “substantial attention” but that the UK should retain its seven research councils.

One of the areas that required improvement was the performance management frameworks of the councils. Improvements should be agreed with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills as a matter of “priority”.

These should include a “clear picture of success” and metrics that enable evaluation, according to the report published by the BIS on 16 April.

“We are confident that further improvements will flow from this, and that the overall position will be strengthened as a result,” says the Triennial Review of the Research Councils report.

Another area for improvement flagged by the review was the cross-council arrangements for good use of public money. The review found that these were not as good as those in place at the individual council level.

As a result changes should be made to the governance of Research Councils UK executive group to ensure “the most effective use of public funds at the collective level”.

The group should be charged with the task of “delivering collective efficiency savings and transformational change across Research Councils”, the report adds.

Rick Rylance, chair of the Research Councils UK Executive Group, said: “We have already implemented many of the recommendations [of the report] and are working with BIS to implement the remainder as soon as possible.”

Case studies considered in the report include merging the Arts and Humanities and Economic and Social research councils, and abolishing the Science and Technology Facilities Council. But there was little evidence that these changes would improve effectiveness or efficiency, the report says.

“We therefore concluded that the Research Councils should be retained in their current form,” says the report.

More than 100 stakeholders, including representatives from business, universities, charities and the research councils themselves, contributed to the review. One of these was the Institute of Physics.

Frances Saunders, president of the IOP, said: “Continuing to invest in scientific research is key to the future of the UK and its economy, enabling significant contributions to be made to its gross domestic product, improving the quality of life of its people, and allowing it to respond to global challenges and opportunities.”

Dr Saunders added that the institute was “particularly encouraged” that the research councils will be reviewing opportunities for interdisciplinary research. “Some of the most interesting new opportunities can arise in these boundary areas,” she added.

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 3 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

Reader's comments (1)

Maybe merging HEIF with more of the RC budget, and bids mainly awarded for innovative projects jointly co-funded with business and not-for-profits sponsors might also advantageously help.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy