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Securing world class research in UK universities

Report
26 November 2009

Supporting the cutting edge of knowledge

The flexibility of QR funding allows universities the freedom to support the research areas that are most important to them by:

  • investing in strategic priorities or developing new pockets of expertise
  • supporting exploratory work on high-risk, but potentially high-reward, projects before seeking further funding from other sources
  • supporting the development of partnerships with users of research, helping to achieve greater impact from research findings.

Sustaining responsive research

The block grant approach allows universities to choose how the funding should be spent. By allowing those ‘closest to the action’ to make these decisions, the UK has been able to:

  • sustain research subjects that have faded in and out of popularity but which are now critical to our success
  • maintain research groups between funding for specific projects so they can build knowledge and understanding, leading to greater development and exploitation of findings
  • ensure research needs are anticipated through strong relationships with industry and Government
  • build new research teams in areas of national need to address current issues.

Sustaining a world-class research environment

World-leading research requires a world-class research environment. The flexible nature of quality-related research (QR) funding allows it to be combined with other sources of funding to invest in top-quality facilities. The investment may be in:

  • computing, key pieces of equipment or high-quality buildings
  • members of staff to support co-ordination of research across disciplines to respond to the major challenges of the 21st century.

Developing people and skills

Developing tomorrow’s researchers requires investment today. QR funding allows universities to support development in different ways including:

  • supporting postgraduate students by providing opportunities for training and development
  • providing bridging funding to retain early-career researchers beyond the scope of funding for a specific project
  • enabling staff to take time out from teaching schedules to undertake initial work for a research project, publish papers and prepare grant proposals
  • engaging with the research community. QR funding allows this crucial exchange of knowledge to occur within and beyond universities, nationally and internationally.

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