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Higher Education: Research

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps the Government have taken to improve standards in research at UK universities. (234075)

This Government are committed to maintaining the UK's world class university system and have already taken significant and recent steps to sustain the excellence of the UK research base and improve the exploitation of knowledge. The decline in public investment in science during the 1980s and early 1990s has been reversed. Since 1997, the ring-fenced science budget has more than doubled and by the end of the spending review period research funding from the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills will reach almost £6 billion per annum. The Government have addressed the backlog of underinvestment in research infrastructure through a combination of capital funding and a move towards funding the full economic cost of research.

The dual support funding system for research has a strong incentive effect. The combination of the research assessment exercise, which informs the HEFCE quality related block grant, and the Research Councils’ competitive allocation of funding through peer review has driven up the quality of research. The combination has been extremely successful over the last decade and the UK ranks second only to the USA in the world for research excellence overall.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much the Government have allocated for research programmes in West Midlands universities in 2008-09. (234076)

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills funds research programmes in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Research Councils.

For West Midlands HEIs, HEFCE research funding for the year 2008-09 is £91.9 million. Data on Research Council funding is collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) from university returns. The most recent HESA data are for 2006-07, when West Midlands HEIs received £58.9 million of Research Council funding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government plan to take to improve the standards of research in UK higher education institutions. (234077)

The dual support funding system for research creates strong incentives for institutions to drive up the quality of their research. The Higher Education Funding Council is currently working on plans for the research excellence framework, which aims to promote excellent research while reducing the administrative burden of assessing it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much quality related funding was awarded in the last funding round to universities in each region. (234225)

Quality Related research funding (QR) is allocated and distributed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The following table sets out QR funding from HEFCE for each of the regions in 2008/09. Figures include both quality-related research (QR) funding and capability funding. QR funding accounts for 98 per cent. of total HEFCE research funding.

2008-09 HEFCE research funding by region

Region

(£ million)

East Midlands

84.4

East of England

153.0

London

432.7

North East

60.9

North West

150.4

Open University

7.4

South East

252.9

South West

87.0

West Midlands

91.9

Yorkshire and the Humber

137.9

Total England

1,458.4