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Funding for Academic Research

Volume 697: debated on Monday 21 June 2021

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the allocation of Government funding to academic institutions for research. (901516)

The Government are investing £14.9 billion on research and development in 2021-22, the highest level for four decades. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy provides funding for academic researchers through UK Research and Innovation and the national academies, and published detailed allocations in May. I will continue to work closely with the Minister with responsibility for science, research and innovation, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby North (Amanda Solloway).

The UKRI’s global challenges research fund was set up to promote international collaboration on global issues, including climate change and health. However, due to the reduction in overseas aid, the funding promised in 2019 has now been cut in half, causing projects to be cancelled and researchers in low-income countries to be made redundant. In many cases, the last two years of research will be wasted. How will the Minister get academics to commit time and energy in the future, when they cannot trust this Government to honour their commitments?

The changes to the level of official development assistance quality-related funding made available to universities has been applied equally across the four nations of the Union, as the hon. Member will know. The Government’s research ODA spend includes the global challenges research fund, which has been allocated in line with the thematic, rather than geographic, priorities of the strategic framework for UK ODA, as outlined by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, while prioritising high-value-for-money projects and existing legal commitments. I will be delighted to meet the hon. Member along with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary responsibility for science, innovation and research to discuss this matter further.