European research chiefs visiting London's University College this week were warned that success in Framework programmes risked bringing universities closer to bankruptcy.
Opening the two-day UCL Framework Five conference, UCL provost Derek Roberts said: "It is a scandal that every time an academic is successful (with Framework), the head of the institution immediately moans and says it is a step closer to bankruptcy. It's a fact of life that we don't recover our costs. That's a major problem. It really is a deterrent for heads of institutions."
He urged the European Commission to consider paying the full costs of European-funded research, and also called for a small proportion of each European grant to be made available for further blue sky research.
However, Professor Roberts stressed the importance and benefits of a Europe-wide research programme such as Framework. "Generally, I am very supportive of Europewide research. I think one or two minor changes would have a profound effect." He added: "We would rather go bankrupt than deter people from participating."
The conference was designed to give UCL researchers up-to-date information on Framework opportunities and funding possibilities. It comes a week after the European Parliament and Council of Ministers finally reached agreement on the size of Framework Five, which will be Ecu 14.96 billion (Pounds 10.4 billion), after months of conciliation.