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University-based Research Funding

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

During 2010-11, the Department will provide £5.7 billion in funding for science and research, made up of £3.9 billion, principally to the research councils, and £1.8 billion of research funding distributed by the Universities Funding Council in England. The previous Government delayed the comprehensive spending review, so budgets have not been set for future years. They will be decided this autumn as part of the spending review.

As the Minister will, I am sure, agree, we enjoy a world-class research base in our universities here in the UK, but stability of funding is crucial to that. I seek reassurance today that he will take that as a priority, especially for science research, which is so essential as a driver for our economy. Can he confirm whether the VAT increase, which will affect universities to the extent of £200 million, will be taken into account?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are committed to a strong research base in Britain and in our universities. If the hon. Lady looks at the Budget, she will see that it contained, alongside the necessary VAT increase, imaginative proposals to try to help universities respond to that challenge.

Is the Minister aware that the decisions that individuals take to come to this country, leave this country and to stay and research in this country depend on how welcome they are made to feel here and how much funding is available over a long time scale? Will he commit to a 10-year prediction of how much money is likely to be available, so that when we are out of the current hole people will know that there is a rosy future ahead?

It is quite a challenge to make a 10-year prediction when we have just embarked on the comprehensive spending review for the next three years. I can say that we are committed to supporting research in this country. The challenge we face is that we inherited from the previous Government a commitment to reductions of

“£600 million from higher education and science and research budgets”.