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

Memorandum 2

Supplementary submission from the Arts and Humanities Research Council


The Committee has asked the AHRC about the circumstances of the reduction in availability of EYF in January 2007 as relevant to the context for the CSR result and the impact and consequences of that reduction.


  The AHRC had an EYF of £14.8 million on 1.4.2006. The majority of this sum was transferred to the OSI from the DfES when AHRB became a Research Council in April 2005. It had previously been agreed with our funders at that time (the four Funding Councils of the UK), and with the DfES, that we would actively seek to build up an EYF pot as we established a range of programmes over a period of five or so years. As the programmes became fully operational we had a plan to utilise our existing EYF progressively up the end of 2007-08.

  To implement this plan, we had put in train a number of new strategic programmes, and accelerated and enhanced others. The rationale behind these actions was made explicit in our Delivery Plan, new Strategic Plan and the early drafts of our CSR submission.

  Research Councils programmes take significant time both to get started and to stop once they are started. Reductions in expenditure in 2007-08, whatever action we took, would result in repercussions in future years. We had limited flexibility regarding those areas of activity that could be "switched off" or "turned down" so as to affect the level of spend in the next financial year. Nevertheless, we provided a suite of actions that we could take. After discussions with our Council, the reduction of £5.3 million of EYF was managed by:

    —  Reducing the sum available for awards in Research Leave by £2 million

    —  Reducing the Strategic Programme Management Fund by £0.57 million

    —  Deferring the Strategic Resource Enhancement programme for 1 year, releasing £1.5 million

    —  Reducing the budgets for KT Partnerships and KT catalyst schemes by £300,000

    —  Reducing the funding for collaborative research training schemes by £200,000

  By making the required cuts in our responsive mode programmes in the first instance, we also retained sufficient resource to pursue the delivery of our strategic priorities.


Reduction in Research Leave allocation:

  This is a popular scheme, delivering added value to the arts and humanities research community and the HE sector, as well as having an impact in society more widely. Consistently high quality outputs are generated from this area of activity, with hundreds of outputs being generated each year.

Reduction in Strategic Programme Management Fund:

  We lost some of our flexibility to respond to opportunities to support new and emerging initiatives that would fit well with our strategic aims, and where research is urgently required.

Reduction in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships/Knowledge Catalyst Scheme:

  Dissemination and Knowledge Transfer are central to AHRC's Strategic Plan. Reductions in budgets directly affect the volume of awards that can be made. Opportunities for KT between SMEs and the research base were reduced.

Reduction in Collaborative Research Training awards:

  This scheme is our main mechanism for supporting subject-specialist research skills training and encourages HEIs to collaborate in the formation of training networks. The budget reduction impacted upon the provision of essential subject-specific research training for doctoral students and limited opportunities for inter-institutional collaboration in this area.


The Committee has asked the AHRC what level of resource we would have needed to maintain our current suite of programmes at the existing level.

  Based on our projections of current and planned expenditure, we had forecast that to maintain volume in our existing programmes to engage appropriately with the Cross-Council challenges, fund FECs at 80%, and develop those strategic areas that we had identified as priorities in our Strategic and Delivery Plans, we estimated we would have required about £345 million over the CSR period. In the event, we have received £316.7 million, including our estimated £58.4 million for FECs over the period.

  Our allocation provided to us, as to the other Research Councils, enables us to:

    —  Commit a minimum of £2.5 million in collaboration with the TSB in the CSR07 period.

    —  Participate in new cross-Council multi-disciplinary research programmes.

    —  Cover our contribution to the Shared Service Centre at a level agreed with RCUK.

    —  Fund our share of the costs of RCUK, including programmes on research careers and diversity, science and society and the funding of the RCUK contribution to the new International Fellowships scheme, as well as the RCUK secretariat, RCUK's international offices and other agreed joint activities.

  We welcome the opportunity, building on our existing relationships, to engage with the other Councils and with other stakeholders, such as the Technology Strategy Board, in a wide range of important strategic programmes, where our research community are rightly seen as indispensable partners.

The Committee has also asked us to provide information on the consequences and impact of the CSR, especially in relation to our finances.

  As a result of the settlement, the AHRC has had to make further changes to its planned programme of activities to enable us to achieve the targets above.

  In responsive mode, we reduced the allocations to our Research Grants, Research Leave and Creative and Performing Arts awards.

  Our suite of cross-Council strategic programmes has benefited from the advice from DIUS that we should aim to fund these programmes as though we had received an additional 5% funding allocation.

  The Committee has expressed particular interest in our postgraduate provision. Over the three years of the CSR, the volume of awards made is projected to fall from around 4500 to around 3650—a reduction of 19%. These reductions have fallen across both Masters and Doctoral programmes and the resource generated from them has been redirected into priority strategic areas.

  At the most general levels impact, our community already receives a lower level of funding proportional to the size of the community than many of the science based subject areas. The AHRC's share of the Science Budget falls from 2.8% in 2007-08 to 2.6% in 2010-11. The impact of this will be harder in the first two years, with some relief in the third year.

  Nevertheless, we have set out in our previous note to the Committee the exciting array of work in research, postgraduate provision and knowledge transfer that we will be able to undertake in the three next three years and we refer the Committee to that note.

February 2008

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 30 April 2008