Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 1

Submission from the Arts and Humanities Research Council


  1.  The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) welcomes this opportunity from the Committee to share its views on the recent allocations of the Science Budget, and looks forward to working with both the Committee and the Department on matters relating to the funding of arts and humanities research in the future.

  2.  Late last year the AHRC published its delivery plan for the period 2008-2011, which details our priorities and the vigorous contribution that the arts and humanities will make towards the ambitions of the Science & Innovation investment Framework 2004-2014. We also published our updated Vision and Strategy for the period 2007-2012, which sets out our vision for supporting world class research and post-graduate training, alongside the aims we have to strengthen the cultural, social and economic impact of arts and humanities research via knowledge transfer. A recently convened task group will further investigate the impact of arts and humanities research throughout the coming year.

  3.  In January this year the AHRC released a general statement to the research community, providing detail of the breakdown of the allocation of the funding we will receive from the Science Budget and explaining the decisions we have made regarding how this will be distributed amongst our portfolio of opportunities. Whilst it is true that this has led to some negative reaction from within the research community (as it will inevitably lead to a drop in success rates in some areas) it must also be noted that there is a great degree of enthusiasm for the increasing potential for fostering innovation and collaborative working across a range of AHRC supported initiatives. Cross-council strategic research will be strengthened as a result.

  4.  It is also hoped that the payment of higher levels of Full Economic Costs, which is also a recommendation of the Comprehensive Spending Review, may help Higher Education Institutions to devote additional resource to their own support of individual scholarship.

  5.  In particular, we would draw the Committee's attention to the strategic research themes that the science budget will allow us to fund. These include capitalising on the UK's cultural assets via the development of research between the arts, humanities and science and technology disciplines; potentially contributing directly towards the UK's vibrant tourism industry. Also, we will stimulate and support innovation in the knowledge economy by facilitating access to arts and humanities research for the creative industries and digital service sectors. The AHRC will also bring the unique research insights of the arts and humanities to the cross-council Global Threats to Security programme.

  6.  In response to Lord Sainsbury's report The Race to the Top, we will also use funds to develop exciting collaborations with organisations such as the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). Work has already begun, for example, to enable the TSB to build upon our successful Knowledge Catalyst[1] scheme in achieving their aim of delivering a nationwide mini-Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme.

  7.  In terms of our international activity, the AHRC has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Research Foundation;[2] to add to those already signed with the US, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. These links will enable a dynamic exchange of knowledge and expertise across cultures, strengthening our presence as a leader in the global knowledge economy and allowing the UK to share the skills and expertise present within new and emerging research cultures worldwide. The allocations of the Science Budget will allow us to fund the development of research collaborations in this endeavour.

February 2008

1   For further detail please see Back

2   Press release at Back

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