Research elite spin funding into gold

July 20, 2007

This year's performance indicators reveal the widening efficiency gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in research funding.

The data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency includes an index comparing research input and output measures that shows which institutions are forging ahead of the field, and which are falling behind.

An analysis of the figures by The Times Higher also reveals how much more research-led institutions are earning from grants and contracts for every pound they spend on academic staff, compared to those institutions focusing on teaching.

With the exception of the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the biggest players are still the most efficient at capturing research funding.

The analysis shows that at one end of the scale most universities from the research-intensive Russell Group earn more than £1 from research grants and contracts for every £1 they spend on staff, while at the other end some new universities such as Derby, Chester and Thames Valley win just 2p in grants and contracts for each £1 spent.

At the very bottom of the pile, Swansea Institute of Higher Education brings in only 1p per £1 spent. The biggest gains relative to the rest of the sector in 2005-06 were made by the Institute of Education, which brought in £1.70 in research grants and contracts for every £1 it spent on staff that year, according to The Times Higher 's calculations.

Also moving ahead were the Royal College of Art, the Institute of Cancer Research, Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, all of which made more progress than Oxford University.

Chris McCourt, head of the graduate school at Thames Valley University, said it was getting harder for new universities to compete for research grants and contracts.

She said: "We are trying to counter that by playing to our own strengths and focusing on those areas where we already have a good reputation."

RESEARCH RETURNS Income earned (in research grants and contracts) per pound spent on academic staff Analysis by The Times Higher based on Hesa data Institution Income per £/staff Institute of Cancer Research £6.99 London School of Hygiene
and Tropical Medicine £5.16 Imperial College London £2.28 Oxford University £2.23 Institute of Education £1.70 School of Pharmacy £1.66 Edinburgh University £1.39 University College London £1.37 Bristol University £1.15 Liverpool University £1.14


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