The British Academy has responded to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee's report on research funding in universities.
In the report, the Committee warns that the Augar Review's proposals to reduce tuition fees for students in England could have severe consequences for universities. Such proposals should be implemented only if the government is prepared to fully compensate universities with additional teaching grants, the Committee argues.
In response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on research funding in universities, Professor Sir David Cannadine, the President of the British Academy, said:
“This report is a timely and insightful contribution to the crucial debate on higher education funding. It is encouraging to see the report reflect many of the points we have made to Government – not least the oral evidence that Professor Roger Kain FBA gave to the Committee in his role as the British Academy’s Vice-President of Research and Higher Education.
“As the national academy for the humanities and social sciences, the British Academy welcomes the report’s attention to safeguarding the future of courses and research in these subjects, which are essential to the economic and social wellbeing of the nation. We need a nuanced higher education policy that reflects the need for student value for money while at the same time respecting the value of all subjects and all aspects of the contribution graduates make to our society.
“We are pleased to see the report draw attention to the uncertainties surrounding future access to research funding for universities. The UK has consistently outperformed other countries in competitions for EU funding, particularly in the humanities and social sciences where – for example – this year UK-based academics have won 43% of the European Research Council’s Advanced Grants, worth up to €2.5 million across five years.
“So, we agree with the Committee that the Government must do all it can to ensure that the level of research funding the UK currently receives from the EU is maintained, and also that Quality-Related funding rises by at least the rate of inflation. Universities are complex organisations, where cutting-edge research interacts closely with high quality teaching, and changes to any of the interlocking income streams on which they draw will have far-reaching consequences.”