Imperial College London has been toppled from its top position in a ranking of research council income for only the second time in six years.
In a year when a surge of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funding meant big rises in income across most of the research-intensive universities, Imperial’s income fell by nearly a third.
The university did not provide comment on the reasons for the fall in time for Times Higher Education’s deadline.
The University of Oxford climbed from second to first place. Ian Walmsley, Oxford’s pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation, said that the university had not put in more applications for grants and the increase in funding was due to a “few exceptionally large awards”.
This included the EPSRC’s £120 million Quantum Technology Hubs, awarded last November and led by the universities of Oxford, Birmingham, Glasgow and York. All had substantial leaps in income this year.
Tim Softley, Birmingham’s pro vice-chancellor for research and knowledge transfer, said that he was “delighted” with the university’s appearance into the top 10.
He said that 2014-15 had been a “record” year for the value of Birmingham’s applications to the research councils and other sources of funding.
But he added: “We recognise that further increases in research income will be brought about by improved quality as much as quantity and are reviewing our internal peer review mechanisms to ensure a continued focus on high quality applications.”
Professor Softley said that individual academics did not have income targets, but during 2014-15, Birmingham had introduced goals for each discipline, although this was “probably too recent to have had a real impact on last year’s figures”, he added.
Grant income targets for individual academics now exist in some form at about one in six universities, a THE investigation revealed earlier this year.
Deborah Smith, pro vice-chancellor for research at York, said that her university’s strong performance had partly been thanks to the “strengthening of internal monitoring and peer-review processes”.
The 2014 research excellence framework results allow for the creation of a crude measure of how effectively researchers at each university apply to the research councils (see table below).
The average income per researcher is divided by the university’s grade point average score in the REF, to control for their differing quality. On this measure, Imperial does best because average income per researcher is even higher than would be predicted by its top REF GPA.
However, this measure of efficiency does not take into account subject mix, as scientists tend to get larger grants than humanities scholars, potentially skewing upwards the income of science-heavy institutions.
Top 10 by overall research council income in 2014-2015
|Institution||Success rate (%)||Income 2014‑15 (£)||% change on 2013-14||Income per REF eligible researcher (£)||2014 REF GPA||Income per researcher per GPA point (£)|
|University of Oxford||32||138,548,682||48||49,927||3.34||14,948|
|University College London||30||89,011,293||14||31,677||3.22||9,837|
|Imperial College London||27||79,213,295||-31||57,904||3.36||17,233|
|University of Cambridge||32||76,458,844||35||34,817||3.33||10,456|
|University of Manchester||32||69,892,046||20||34,911||3.16||11,048|
|University of Birmingham||27||60,618,055||143||45,923||3.07||14,959|
|University of Glasgow||25||58,778,852||116||44,801||3.1||14,452|
|University of Edinburgh||31||57,633,889||14||27,380||3.18||8,610|
|University of Bristol||29||53,952,821||0||43,301||3.18||13,617|
|University of York||35||46,097,047||81||53,477||3.17||16,870|
Best and worst by success rate
|10 highest||Apps||SR (%)||10 lowest||Apps||SR (%)|
|Loughborough||60||43||Royal Veterinary College||24||0|
Note: Only institutions putting in 20 or more applications have been included