74. HEFCE says it had expected an improvement in the RAE results
but the size of the
HEFCE says it had expected an improvement in the RAE results but
the size of the increase exceeded its expectations.
Given that QR funding has risen only fractionally above inflation
in recent years even a more modest increase in research ratings
would have caused problems for HEFCE. We believe that HEFCE should
have seen the problem coming and that more could have been done
to minimise its impact, perhaps by holding back funds from other
Roderick Floud, of Universities UK, described the funding of RAE
2001 as a "slap in the face" for universities.
HEFCE should have warned them to duck. At least HEFCE recognises
that the implications of funding RAE 2001 has caused "considerable
While HEFCE cannot be blamed for the level of funding that
is available for higher education research, it must bear primary
responsibility for the way the RAE funding deficit has been handled.
75. Some responsibility for the funding decisions must lie
with the DfES and with the Minister for Lifelong Learning and
Higher Education. DfES says it sets the "overall framework
and policy objectives for the Higher Education Funding Council
for England. The Council is then responsible within that framework
for devising funding mechanisms which will achieve those policy
objectives, and distributing resources provided by DfES to institutions".
Mrs Hodge said "there are a lot of conversations that take
place before those decisions are taken but, at the end of the
day, the decision rests with HEFCE and it is theirs to take".
The RAE and the funding decisions based on it have major repercussions
for the higher education system. We find it hard to believe that
the Minister is prepared to delegate all of that power to an unelected
quango. It cannot be in the public interest that she should do
76. The DfES must also bear responsibility for the financial
dilemma which HEFCE has been facing. The extra £30 million
found by the DfES in January 2002 is welcome but inadequate. We
appreciate that the Government has a number of priorities in education,
but it must not lose sight of the need to maintain and develop
an excellent research base. We welcome the Minister's commitment
to fight for a generous settlement for higher education in the
77. During our evidence session with the Secretary of State for
Trade and Industry in December 2001, we asked about the RAE. Her
view was that this was a matter for her DfES colleagues.
We fully accept that higher education is the responsibility
of DfES, not of DTI, but we would suggest that the Cabinet Minister
for Science should take a closer interest in the RAE and in the
funding of higher education research, since it is vitally important
to the future of science and technology in the UK.
The Spending Review
78. Discussions about the mechanism for the allocation for
research funding are largely meaningless unless the under-funding
of university research is addressed. Several submissions said
money, or lack of money, was the main problem with the funding
decisions based on RAE. The Spending Review 2002 will set government
spending allocations for the financial years 2003-04, 2004-05
and 2005-06. Universities UK has said that HE should get £9.94
billion for the Spending Review period, of which £2.6 billion
is to fund research.
There is a strong case for a substantial increase in the HE
research budget. This should not be less than the £200 million
a year required to fund RAE 2001 using the formula employed until
recently and to restore the project funding/QR ratio to 1993-94
levels. Borne in mind should be the chronic underfunding in university
research for much longer than this.
79. As part of the 2002 Spending Review, the Government is conducting
seven cross-cutting reviews, one of which is considering science
and research. One of its aims is to "review current funding
mechanisms and levels, and to identify the priorities for resources
across the funding streams held by the Office of Science and Technology
and the Department for Education and Skills".
We welcome the science and research cross-cutting review and
trust that it will spell out clearly for the Treasury the value
of science and engineering research and its present parlous state
of under-funding. The Government has stressed the need to
get results from public services. UK university research is
already among the best in the world without the funding it deserves.
The Spending Review 2000 brought great benefits for the Science
Budget. Now has come the time to put right the imbalance in the
dual support system by delivering a significant increase in funding
for higher education research.
Q 73 Back
Ev 94, para 20; Ev 89; Ev 104 Back
Ev 63 Back
Ev 87; Ev 111 Back
Ev 76 Back
Ev 87, para 6 Back
Ev 62, para 9 Back
Ev 27; Qq 95-97 Back
Recurrent Grants for 2002-03, HEFCE 02/11, March 2002 Back
Q 25 Back
Q 3 Back
Ev 41 Back
Q 118 Back
Ev 3, para 22 Back
Ev 48, para 3 Back
Q 28 Back
Minutes of Evidence, 19 December 2001, HC 459-i, Qq 54-60 Back
Investing for Success, Universities UK, 2001 Back
See www.treasury.gov.uk Back