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More public funds needed for research

A new report concludes that recent improvements in the competitiveness of UK research will only be maintained by increased funding.

Helen Gavaghan(gavers@supanet.com)

YORKSHIRE — Spurred by the incentives associated with doing well in Research Assessment Exercises, the UK's universities have improved their competitiveness internationally during the past 15 years, says a report to be published within the next few weeks by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Universities UK.

To help achieve this improvement, however, institutions have had to dig into their capital. So if the improved levels are to be maintained, more public funds will need to be found for the future. Such an increased investment would seem to be justified if the report's conclusion that peak performers (those awarded the grades of 5 or 5* in the RAE) provide tangible value for money is correct. The report finds that those universities scoring highly on research excellence for so-called 'Blue sky' projects also attract the most industrial funding for applied research.

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