Union asks for fairer research funding

March 26, 1999

Lecturers' union Natfhe is pressing for a "fairer" share of research funding for new universities.

In a meeting with science minister Lord Sainsbury this week Natfhe said teaching quality could be jeopardised without the extra cash.

Tom Wilson, head of Natfhe's university department, said: "Teaching and research go hand in hand at university level. Good science teaching needs an environment of science research. If new universities don't get more funding for research infrastucture, the quality of their teaching will be jeopardised. Science departments in the new universities need a fairer share of science research money if the standard of their science teaching is not to suffer."

According to Natfhe, new universities' share of the Higher Education Funding Council for England's research allocations rose from 4.7 per cent to 7.3 per cent this year, but more still needs to be done.

The union wants to see some of the comprehensive spending review boost for science research distributed specifically to new universities and suggests that a separate slice of research funding could be distributed with teaching funds. It also wants to see the restoration of development research money to help new universities build their research facilities.

"The government has given a very welcome boost to research grants which means there is an ideal opportunity to redistribute funds so as to give the new universities more without any reduction to the old. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not on," said Mr Wilson.

A parliamentary question earlier this year revealed some research councils spent less than 1 per cent of their research grants in new universities. In 1997-98, none of the councils spent more than 5 per cent of their higher education budgets in the former polytechnics.

A spokesman for the Office of Science and Technology added that no change in policy was planned.

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