Brussels, 12 Feb 2003
Further concentration of government funding for research at UK universities may mean a loss of funding for some university departments doing research of national excellence within a few years, said UK Minister for Higher Education Margaret Hodge on 10 February.
Speaking to the House of Commons education committee, Ms Hodge said that the government would like to see a further concentration of research activity in its pursuit of global excellence. Even departments that scored four out of a possible five in a 2001 research assessment exercise 'might well' lose the funding that they are currently receiving unless they can prove themselves to be on the 'escalator of improvement', said Ms Hodge.
Level four departments are described as demonstrating 'quality that equates to attainable levels of national excellence in virtually all of the research activity submitted, showing some evidence of international excellence.' Nearly 12,000 academics, or one quarter of all research staff in the UK are working in the 664 departments classified as level four. Some 55 per cent of researchers work in departments rated as five or five star.
Ms Hodge confirmed that 75 per cent of research funding currently goes to 25 per cent of universities, and said that the government would like to concentrate research effort still further. The government also wants to see universities focusing more on their 'own individual missions', said Ms Hodge.