University funding reform ‘will lead to brain drain’ to London

Ministers have been warned of a possible “brain drain” of researchers away from smaller universities and a more concentration of talent in London and the south-east if they go ahead with a significant funding reform.

Universities United kingdom has been advised that it will want to make a “robust case” in favour of the current system, which assures that academic researchers functioning in unfashionable places of study at much less celebrated institutions are eligible for taxpayers’ income.

Beneath the “dual support” technique, universities are provided funds to invest as they want, identified as good quality-related funding. At the exact same time the investigation councils fund significant analysis tasks undertaken in accordance to national strategic goals.

The Observer has realized that the Division for Organization, Innovation and Capabilities is looking at concentrating all funding in the hands of the analysis councils, in a move that would possibly see an finish to analysis funding in areas this kind of as ancient Greek, according to a single vice-chancellor.

Critics of the move think the winners would be the major science and technological innovation research centres, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial School and King’s College London, while new universities would lose out. The universities in the so-referred to as “golden triangle” of the south-east dominated the best finish of the study excellence framework published last week as a guidebook to exactly where the very best ground-breaking analysis is currently being undertaken.

Liam Byrne, the shadow universities minister, said that would accelerate a trend in direction of experience accumulating in the south-east. Sectors this kind of as hi-tech manufacturing, IT, existence sciences, telecoms and professional services grew by nearly 225,000 jobs among 2009 and 2013 in London and the south-east. That accounted for 85% of the jobs produced in these substantial-skilled sectors, according to figures produced by the Property of Commons library.

Four areas of Britain saw the variety of “knowledge economy” jobs fall – in the north-east, 21,500 jobs have been lost, while jobs also disappeared in the West Midlands, the south-west and Scotland.

Byrne mentioned: “We need our universities to turn out to be powerhouses of the expertise economic system all above Britain, not just in London and the south-east. So we’ve received to get incredible care we do practically nothing to strip out what’s left of study departments in Britain’s regions. Regional research bases want to be greater, not smaller sized.”

Universities United kingdom confirmed that at a board meeting this month they have been told institutions should now be “prepared to make a robust case in help of quality-associated (QR) funding”.

Professor Geoff Rodgers, vice-chancellor of Brunel university, explained: “The investigation council income is far more strategic, about national priorities, and the QR money sustains the base. It can assistance ancient Greek while also making it possible for investment in new locations.

“It permits you to move into chemical engineering if you want to. It is regarded as the system that has left Uk science in the strong position that it is in. There is a question mark in the background, a discussion going about no matter whether we genuinely need to have the dual-assistance program and no matter whether the QR income is underneath risk. I know that officials have been arguing with ministers about the value of the dual-support system. We consider that a adjust would diminish the research base in the Uk.

“I think the essential point is that it would imply that a narrow selection of topics would be funded and it would make it extremely difficult to preserve the degree of study we need across the piece in purchase to be profitable as a nation,” added Rodgers.

“Right now, for instance, there might be extremely number of sociologists who are funded to analysis into food distribution, which is quite essential topic simply because of considerations more than safety of our food supply chains. It might be that there are not any study council funded-tasks in that region, so what we want is a base of investigation-lively sociologists who are searching at these subjects.

“There is a danger that if you enable funding to be undertaking-led, then some locations would have no tasks and we would be left with nothing at all to say in certain places. We would lose the resilience that we have now.”

Leave a Reply