SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
(a) There is an overwhelming case for
a substantial real terms increase in Government expenditure on
research over and above that which is required to make good the
later as an investment in the nation's future (paragraph 11).
(b) We find the arguments in support of
the dual support system for allocating public funds to university
research overwhelming and endorse the overall conclusion in the
Dearing Report that it should be retained (paragraph 18).
(c) We recommend that the Government reject
the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education's proposals
for establishing a revolving loans fund to support research infrastructure
(d) We accept that not all the money attracted
from industry by the Joint Research Equipment Initiative is new
money and are convinced that, in isolation, the Initiative will
not solve the funding crisis in research infrastructure. Nevertheless,
we welcome the Joint Research Equipment Initiative and the fact
that it is to become an annual event as it will provide significant
additional resources (paragraph 32).
(e) While we do not ignore the responsibility
that the Research Councils, and therefore by implication the Office
of Science and Technology, have for contributing towards infrastructure
where the work they fund places demands upon it, we are clear
that this is primarily a matter for the Higher Education Funding
Councils and therefore for the Department for Education and Employment
and the corresponding departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland (paragraph 34).
(f) We are convinced that there is still
a real and urgent need for the Government to provide additional
resources to resolve the immediate crisis in research infrastructure
in the UK's universities. We recommend that this issue be treated
with the utmost priority in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
We further recommend that the Government allocate a total of between
£410 and £430 million of new money, earmarked for research
infrastructure, over the next three public expenditure rounds
(g) We recommend that the Research Councils
should pay the full indirect costs, excluding academic staff salaries,
of the research which they fund in universities (paragraph 39).
(h) We recommend that the Research Councils
agree with universities, rates for indirect costs which recognise
that such costs may vary from one type of research to another
(i) We recommend that all increased expenditure
incurred by the Research Councils as a result of paying a higher
rate for indirect costs be matched by increased Government funding
for the Research Councils (paragraph 41).
(j) We recommend that the Higher Education
Funding Councils examine the operation of the Research Assessment
Exercise with a view to ensuring that it only rewards those institutions
which attract grants and commissions for research on terms which
provide for the meeting of the full economic costs either in cash
or in kind (paragraph 47).
(k) We recommend that the Government,
as a priority, ensures that all UK funders of university research
outside the dual support system pay the full economic costs of
that research with full allowance made for contributions in kind
(l) We endorse the National Committee
of Inquiry into Higher Education's recommendation that "institutions
... develop and implement arrangements which allow staff and external
bodies to have access to, and understand the true costs of research".
We recommend that this should be achieved over the next three
years (paragraph 57).
(m) We recommend that the Government continue
its attempts to introduce some flexibility, to allow funding of
indirect costs beyond 20% where appropriate, into the European
Commission's Framework Programmes (paragraph 58).
(n) It is of the utmost importance that
the Research Assessment Exercise should reward research undertaken
in collaboration at least equally with that done by a single department
or institution. We are, therefore, disappointed that the
Dearing Report made no specific recommendations about funding
for collaborative research and that the consultation exercise
launched last November by the Higher Education Funding Councils
on the operation of 1996 Research Assessment Exercise made no
specific reference to collaborative research (paragraph 65).
(o) We recommend that the Funding Bodies
and the Research Councils review all their funding procedures,
including but not exclusively the Research Assessment Exercise
and peer review, to identify any areas where collaborative, inter-disciplinary
and multi-disciplinary research may be disadvantaged and then
put forward and consult widely on options for change. Results
from the current consultation on the Research Assessment Exercise
should be used to inform, but not replace, parts of that review
(p) We have grave reservations about the
principle and practicality of any funding mechanism that relies
on a distinction between scholarship and research (paragraph 71).
(q) We strongly endorse the conclusions
of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education that
university departments must make strategic assessments of their
research activities and that departments whose strengths lie in
teaching should not be inhibited from pursuing teaching excellence;
but we cannot support its proposals for a per capita fund which
are in principle wrong and in practice would be ineffective. The
best way to achieve an appropriate balance between teaching and
research is to enhance the status of, and reward for, good teaching
rather than to undermine the pursuit of research excellence (paragraph
(r) In an era when much of the justification
for deploying public funds in support of the research base rests
on the economic and social benefits of research, the Research
Assessment Exercise should make some recognition of research applied
in these areas (paragraph 76).
(s) We recommend that the Funding Bodies
identify and evaluate the ways in which applied research can be
more easily recognised and adequately rewarded and implement changes
in the next Research Assessment Exercise (paragraph 77).
(t) We urge the Higher Education Funding
Councils to consider and implement means by which the tendency
of the Research Assessment Exercise to encourage short-termism
in research planning can be removed without extending the interval
between Research Assessment Exercises to a duration inconsistent
with robust financial management and accountability (paragraph
(u) We see little benefit and considerable
risk in moving to a rolling programme of research assessment,
the advantages of which are far from proven (paragraph 80).
(v) We endorse the principle of international
validation of Research Assessment Exercise ratings but cannot
support the prescriptive recommendation of the National Committee
of Inquiry into Higher Education that all panels should have international
membership. We believe that the Funding Bodies should have discretion
in this respect (paragraph 83).
(w) On balance we have concluded that
the current level of selectivity is broadly acceptable and that,
given the importance of fostering new talent and pursuing blue
skies research, any moves towards greater selectivity would be
unwise (paragraph 88).
(x) We endorse the recommendation of the
National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education that a code
of practice on training for post-graduate research students, monitored
by the Quality Assurance Agency, should be introduced as soon
as possible and that Higher Education Funding Council funding
for new post-graduate studentships should be dependant on compliance
with that code of practice from 2000-2001 onwards (paragraph 90).
(y) We find, on balance, that we agree
with the Dearing Report: while exposure to high-quality research
and research practice is obviously an essential part of research
training we agree that other factors, such as teaching quality,
should also play a part in determining where to direct funding
for post-graduate research training (paragraph 91).
(z) We recommend that the Quality Assurance
Agency, where appropriate, involve industrial representatives
in the drawing up of a code of practice on post-graduate training
(aa) Ensuring adequate funding for the
research base in the long term is the only way to reverse the
increase in short-term appointments. If implemented, our recommendations
will enable institutions to make commitments to long-term funding
for posts and therefore to reduce the proportion of their staff
on short-term contracts. We would urge them to do so (paragraph
(bb) While we do not consider that it
is for us, as the Science and Technology Committee, to comment
in detail on the precise arrangements for public support of research
in the arts and humanities, we endorse, in principle, the establishment
of an Arts and Humanities Research Council and welcome the Government's
commitment to consider this in the context of the Comprehensive
Spending Review (paragraph 97).
(cc) We strongly recommend that the Government
should reject any proposals that the Arts and Humanities Research
Council should be placed within the structure of the Office of
Science and Technology (paragraph 98).
(dd) We, like the majority of our witnesses,
are unable to see any significant benefits in an Industrial Partnership
Development Fund above and beyond those already delivered by existing
schemes. (paragraph 101).
(ee) We recommend that the Government
investigate whether greater use could be made of the LINK scheme
to reduce confusion caused by the large number of Government initiatives
designed to promote research collaboration between industry and
academia (paragraph 102).
(ff) It seems obvious to us, if companies
are to be asked to enter into a partnership or a collaboration,
that they should be consulted on the basis of that partnership
and therefore strongly endorse the National Committee of Inquiry
into Higher Education's suggestion that "in future, Government
departments should consult with industry before introducing shared
cost schemes" (paragraph 103).
(gg) We endorse the National Committee
of Inquiry into Higher Education's recommendation that the Joint
Information Systems Committee should permanently fund and manage
electronic communications and information services for researchers
and should introduce charges for those services based on volume
of usage (paragraph 106).
(hh) We understand that the Funding Bodies
have already asked for costed options for the provision of protected
international bandwith to be produced. We welcome this (paragraph
(ii) We recommend that the enhanced role,
extended membership and advice of the Council for Science and
Technology is disseminated widely so that its work carries the
confidence of the wider research community (paragraph 110).
(jj) We are unconvinced of the need for
an advisory council for national research policy as envisaged
in the Dearing Report (paragraph 111).
(kk) We recommend that the Government,
before considering the need for an advisory council on national
research policy as envisaged in the Dearing Report, conduct a
rigorous analysis of the mechanisms that are already in place
and ensure that they are working properly (paragraph 112).
paras 35 and 41. Back