Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from Mr Tony Quigley, Head of Science and Engineering Base Group,
Office of Science and Technology following the Evidence Session
of 29 July
At the meeting of the Committee on 29 July,
I promised to write to you about the arrangements for the review
of funding and accounting within the dual support system as far
as they have been established. I explained, in the short period
since the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on 13 July,
that we have been concentrating mainly on discussions with the
Wellcome Trust over the Joint Infrastructure Fund.
At the meeting, I reiterated the point made
by Mr Battle during the Debate on 14 July, that the dual support
system remains in place. The Review is set in that context: in
particular, the aim is to introduce more transparent and accountable
arrangements for ensuring that funds allocated to the Higher Education
Funding Councils for research are used to full effect, properly
complementing funding from the Research Councils. The intention
would be to set in place any changes well before the next spending
review. I stressed that this is not a review of the dual support
system, but if anything the clarification produced by this review
ought to strengthen the system.
Sir John Cadogan has been charged with taking
forward this Review with the Higher Education Funding Council
for England (HEFCE), but all those affectedthe Research
Councils, the other Funding Councils and the Education Departmentswill
need to have a say in how any new arrangements are devised. The
review, and in particular its application on a UK-wide basis,
will therefore be discussed in the cross-departmental Science
and Engineering Base Co-ordinating Committee (SEBCC), which is
chaired by the Chief Scientific Adviser, and with membership including
the Chief Executives of the Research Councils, the Funding Councils,
the DGRC, and senior officials from the Education Departments.
Mr Battle made clear in the 14 July Debate that the universities
would also be consulted.
In terms of process, Sir John has already had
a meeting with Professor Brian Fender, the Chief Executive of
the HEFCE, to consider the scope of the Review which will include
the internal accounting arrangements for research activities within
universities on which the Funding Councils are already making
progress. Over the summer, officials from OST and HEFCE will be
developing this further and will consult other Funding Councils.
The overall scope of the Review will be brought to a special meeting
of the SEBCC that is being arranged in the first half of October,
and will include the Chairman of CVCP.
31 July 1998