V-cs bid for cash to invest in research

November 11, 1994

Vice chancellors are set to make research and teaching infrastructure a priority in their future public spending bids.

The Council of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, meeting today, will discuss plans for a survey which would provide evidence to underpin their bid.

The CVCP plans to make a strong case for support for both research and teaching. It will argue that up-to-date equipment is necessary for new and leading edge research, building on evidence accumulated in a 1989 study by the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, focussing in particular on areas where Britain may be losing out to international competitors.

The CVCP points to the potential political benefits to a government from increased research, and to the damage risked by failure to invest.

While expecting an extremely tough Autumn Statement in 1995 -- the first year for which survey findings would be available -- there are hopes of greater opportunities in 1996, which will probably be the last spending round before the next general election.

The teaching bid will be based on the need for technology-based learning equipment and the renewal of equipment to keep pace with greater intensity of use following university expansion.

Any submission would emphasise that extra research spending would reinforce selectivity policies and meet worries about under-equipment in expanding areas of science and the risk of losing out on international competitiveness.

If the survey proposal is accepted by the council, CVCP will seek an outside consultant for the project, set up an advisory group and seek co-sponsorship from the research and funding councils to meet expected costs of around Pounds 30,000.

The survey would ask departments to state percentages of equipment which is very good, adequate or poor; important areas of research in which inadequate equipment may block critical experiments; which items of equipment in the Pounds 10,000 to Pounds 1 million range are needed for planned research; which areas would benefit most from greater funding and whether they have well-equipped laboratories.

* The CVCP council will also discuss its policy on the use of "university" in college titles.

Current policy supports further and higher education minister Tim Boswell's decision earlier this year to reject the Standing Conference of Principals' claim to the title.

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