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New evidence highlights potential damage of further research concentration

Universities UK media release, October 23, 2003

Universities UK has published research showing that Government proposals to further concentrate research funding would have serious consequences for the future of the UK research base.

The study, Funding Research Diversity: The Impact of Further Concentration on University Research Performance and Regional Research Capacity, was commissioned by Universities UK from Evidence Limited to test some of the assumptions and implications of the Governmentís White Paper proposals.

The reportís key conclusions include:

∑ There is no evidence of a current problem with the performance of the UK research base that needs to be addressed;

∑ There is no clear evidence that the UKís research performance would benefit from further concentration of research funding;

∑ There is evidence that research concentration as proposed would seriously exacerbate existing regional differences in research capacity and performance, with some regions potentially losing important areas of research and suffering in terms of performance.

The report also argues that further concentrating research funding in a smaller number of departments will have significant effects on the research base. It finds that innovative research of disciplinary, economic and social benefit may be at risk from a diminution of research funding for grade 4-rated units, which consistently perform above international norms of excellence.

Professor Ivor Crewe, President of Universities UK, said: "This report provides overwhelming evidence that the Governmentís assumptions that further concentration of research funding in the UK would have beneficial effects are misplaced. Rather, it shows that further concentration is likely to have a negative impact on the UKís research base. It highlights the critical importance of funding high quality research wherever it is found, across a wide university base. 

"This report makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion of how best to support university research in the future and of how to secure the continuing benefits of research for our economy and society."

The report was launched at a seminar hosted by Jonathan Shaw MP in the House of Commons on Thursday, October 23. Guests included MPs, Peers, Vice-Chancellors and representatives of the Research Councils.

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Last updated: 23 October 2003 9:55
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