Research funding future in doubt

July 3, 1998

The government this week side-stepped the question of whether the dual support system will continue.

In its response to a report from the Commons science and technology committee on the implications of the Dearing inquiry, the government took a neutral approach, merely noting widespread backing for continuing dual support.

It also "notes" calls for an extra Pounds 400 million for research infrastructure, while stating that it "shares the extensive concerns" over infrastructure and "is committed to maintaining and enhancing the excellence of UK research".

Detailed spending commitments were not expected, being subject to the outcome of the comprehensive spending review. Government neutrality will fuel rumours that dual support may be dropped - despite the committee's warning that "it would be foolish to mistake the consequences of underfunding for fundamental flaws in the mechanism itself".

Also unanswered and subject to the CSR are calls for research funders to pay the full indirect costs of research, including libraries, computing, premises and maintenance. The government points to a three-year Pounds 2.8 million initiative by the funding councils and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to support institutions in proper costing.

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