Martin Ince British universities are too poorly funded to take advantage of the €17.5 billion (£12 billion) on offer under the European Union Framework 6 programme, the government has admitted.
The Office of Science and Technology, which oversees UK science spending, said universities might have to find extra income from sources such as funding council awards to cover the full costs of participating in framework research projects.
The OST was responding to a report on European science funding from the Commons science and technology committee, which found that lack of overhead payments was hindering university and business involvement in framework research.
The government has called on universities to improve their accounting systems to enable them to spell out the full costs of the research they perform. This could allow them to bid for more money from Brussels or other sources.
But Ian Gibson, MP for Norwich North who chairs the Commons committee, said the government's expectations were "quite unrealistic".
"Universities are being invited to find the money to participate in framework [projects] from a declining budget. This invites them to be dishonest and pretend they can find money when they can't," he said.
- The government has set up FP6UK, a service to help researchers apply for cash from the €17.5 billion (£12 billion) Framework 6 programme.
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