Under funding of UK research nears "crisis proportions"
Apr 9, 1998
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published a critical response to the Dearing review of higher education in the UK. "There is an overwhelming case for a substantial real terms increase in expenditure on research, " it says.
The Implications of the Dearing Report for the Structure and Funding of University Research calls for the government to immediately invest £410 - £430 million in the UK's research infrastructure, and contains some 37 recommendation and conclusions on the Dearing report.
The committee's main concern is the effect that the Dearing report will have on UK university research, and the knock-on effect on the future long-term economic growth and quality of life. "Under funding in university research is nearing crisis proportions. In particular, under investment in laboratories and research equipment is undermining researchers' ability to attract private sector research funding and to conduct research at the cutting edge, " says Michael Clark, the Chairman of the Committee.
The committee also places some blame on the universities by suggesting that they do not include the true cost of research in their grant applications. It proposes that charities, private companies and public bodies, such as the research councils, should pay for the full indirect costs of research, excluding staff salaries, of all their university funded research. These costs would be based on a sliding scale that depended on the type of research funded.
Like Dearing, the committee also approves of universities conducting frequent reviews of their research activities. However, it disagrees with Dearing's proposals to direct research funds into a small select group of research-based universities. The committee also claims that such an approach would not resolve the current crisis, nor guarantee the long-term future of UK research.