Home > Policy and analysis > Research policy

Research policy

Our universities lead the world in science and research, but government must invest more if we are to maximise the benefits to the economy, society and people's everyday lives.

 

Over three-quarters of all publicly-funded research and development takes place in a university, and this is money well spent:

  • The last national assessment of research quality in the UK's universities, the Research Excellence Framework, found that 76% of the submitted work was internationally excellent or world-leading.

  • With just 1% of the world's population, we produced 16% of the most highly cited research articles.

However, government can do more to support UK science and research in universities. Greater public investment is needed if we are to maximise the benefits and impact of our world-leading research base.

We are ​focused on helping government and other stakeholders to deliver this objective - our priorities are​:

  1. To secure long-term, sustainable investment in UK science and research in universities

  2. To ensure that the policy, governance and administrative environment supports excellent research in universities

  3. To provide support, advice and guidance to help enhance the quality and reputation of UK science and research

  4. To communicate the benefits of university-based science and research to the economy, society and people's everyday lives

Our work on science and research policy is informed by the Research Policy Network, chaired by Professor Sir Ian Diamond (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen).

Our work on science a​nd research:

  • Funding, infrastructure and assessment to support world-class research
  • Open access and open data
  • Research using animals
  • Research integrity and misconduct
  • Public engagement with research
  • Researcher careers and support
  • Universities UK Research Policy Network

Funding, infrastr​ucture and assessment to support world-class research

In order to remain at the forefront of the global research community, we need to ensure that our universities have the resources and support to fulfil their potential.

We make the case to government for continued and increased investment in science and research, setting out the evidence base for greater public investment in our universities . We also represent the university interest, working with government, funders and other stakeholders  to ensure that the UK policy environment supports world class research

Open acc​ess and open research data

We believe that all of the UK's publicly-funded research should be available to the public, for free. Open access makes research more transparent, rigorous and efficient; stimulates innovation; and promotes public engagement.

To support the move towards open access we convene the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group, which brings together representatives from across the scholarly process, including research producers, funders and publishers, to coordinate and monitor progress.

Similarly, we are engaged with open research data, which improves the accessibility and reuse of the data underpinning research publications. We contribute to this agenda as a member of the Open Research Data Forum and the Open Research Data Taskforce​.

More information is available on our Open Science​ page.

Research u​sing animals

Many of our members are engaged in essential research using animals, and are subject to one of the most comprehensive and robust regulatory systems in the world. Recognising that such research is necessary and has the potential to deliver significant benefits, we encourage our members to:

  • be open and transparent in their research practices

  • follow best practice in husbandry and welfare at all times

  • actively engage with the 3Rs agenda

We sit on the governance group of the Concordat on openness on animal research in the UK, of which we are also signatories.

Research​​ integrity and misconduct

Good research is underpinned by appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards; a culture of integrity and good governance; and support for the development of researchers.

We are signatories to the Concordat to support research integrity​​​, which sets out expectations for all those involved in research through five high-level commitments.

Public engagement with research

We support the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, which aims to help embed public engagement in universities and research institutes by setting out clear expectations for all those involved in research. The concordat seeks to support, recognise and promote existing good practice in public engagement.

We also support a consortium of partners on a project to explore the barriers to public engagement by researchers, and look for opportunities promote discussions between researchers, universities, research institutes, funders and the public.

Research​ careers and support

The success of UK research depends on universities' ability to attract, support and reward all research staff. We support universities to do this by contributing to sector-wide initiatives such as the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

Funding research diversity

Report
2 October 2003
The impact of further concentration on university research performance and regional research capacity

The team

Max Hastings

Max Hastings

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

Martina Tortis

Martina Tortis

Policy Analyst
Universities UK

Blogs

How open and accessible is university research? – An update

27 October 2017
As Open Access Week draws to a close, Professor Adam Tickell analyses the university sector's recent activities and achievements in the field of open access.

Research misconduct: how universities are addressing the issue

30 March 2017
Jamie Arrowsmith, Programme Manager at Universities UK, discusses the progress universities have made in addressing research misconduct.

News

Response to UK government position on Brexit and EU research & innovation collaboration

6 September 2017
Universities UK responded today to the UK government’s position on continued collaboration in research and innovation with the EU as part of the Brexit process.