UK business schools increasingly reliant on EU for research cash

Domestic funding for business and management research down a quarter in real terms in six years

April 11, 2018
Source: iStock

Funding for business and management research from the UK has dropped by a quarter in real terms over the last six years, with support from the European Union making up for much of the shortfall, a new report reveals.

Of the £68.5 million invested in business school research in 2016-17, nearly a quarter (£16.1 million) came from EU government bodies, which were the second biggest source of funding after the £17.3 million from UK research councils, according to the Chartered Association of Business Schools (Cabs).

A Cabs report, based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, highlights UK business schools’ growing reliance on the EU for research funding, just as Brexit imperils that support.

Research income for the subject area from all UK sources has fallen by £9 million over the last six years, equivalent to 16 per cent – or 25 per cent in real terms – while the investment from international sources has increased by £7.7 million.

This means the share of business research funding coming from all UK sources has decreased from 78 per cent in 2011-12 to 66 per cent in 2016-17, while over the same period the contribution from all EU sources has increased from 19 per cent to 27 per cent. Meanwhile investment from non-EU international sources has risen from 3 to 7 per cent.

Anne Kiem, Cabs’ chief executive, described the increased importance of EU contribution as “very concerning” given the uncertainty of UK researchers’ access to Brussels funding after Brexit, and urged the government to commit to making up any shortfall after Britain leaves the EU.  

“The increasing reliance of the business and management sector on research funding from the EU is very concerning in light of Brexit. From our previous research, nearly half (44 per cent) of business schools expect to lose research funding from EU sources in the next 12 months – and presently it is not clear how this funding gap will be filled once the UK leaves the EU.”

The Cabs report highlights how business and management is losing out to other disciplines in the battle for research funding. In the past six years there has been an average increase of 36 per cent in funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (STEM) subjects from UK and international sources, while business experienced a 1 per cent decline.

“The UK government has committed to replacing any lost research income for STEM research caused by Brexit, but has not made any such commitment for business and management,” said Ms Kiem. “It is vital for the UK’s economic productivity drive that an interdisciplinary approach be taken wherever possible, so that business and management can work with other fields to ensure that innovations developed through research result in commercially viable products and services.”

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