Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Further and higher education - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Research Councils UK (RCUK)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    —  The seven UK Research Councils are the largest public funders of research in the UK, investing over £3 billion per annum in research, training and knowledge transfer across a broad spectrum of research areas. The Councils have a UK-wide remit.

    —  Two Research Councils have institutes in Wales: BBSRC supports IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, which is part of Aberystwyth University and was formerly the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research), and NERC supports the British Geological Survey (BGS) at Cardiff and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Bangor. The spend for BBSRC and NERC on these institutes over FY2006-07, as a proportion of their total UK spend on institutes over the same period, was 5.8% and 2.0% respectively.

    —  There are no significant differences in the ways Research Councils interact with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government, or their respective bodies.

INTRODUCTION

  1.  Research Councils UK is a strategic partnership set up to champion the research supported by the seven UK Research Councils. RCUK was established in 2002 to enable the Councils to work together more effectively to enhance the overall impact and effectiveness of their research, training and innovation activities, contributing to the delivery of the Government's objectives for science and innovation. Further details are available at www.rcuk.ac.uk

  2.  This evidence is submitted by RCUK on behalf of all Research Councils and represents their independent views. It does not include or necessarily reflect the views of the Science and Innovation Group in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The submission is made on behalf of the following Councils:

    Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

  3.  The Committee requested a supplementary memorandum following the oral evidence session with Ian Diamond, to answer two specific queries from the Rt Hon Alun Michael and Dr Hywel Francis.

  4.  Q887 Alun Michael (requested information on) "the proportion of the Research Councils UK's funding for their own research institutes that is allocated to research establishments in Wales". Table 1 provides figures in response to this query.

  5.  Two Research Councils have institutes in Wales: BBSRC supports IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, which is part of Aberystwyth University and was formerly the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research), and NERC supports the British Geological Survey (BGS) at Cardiff and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Bangor. The table shows that the spend for BBSRC and NERC on these institutes over FY2006-07, as a proportion of their total UK spend on institutes over the same period-was 5.8% and 2.0% respectively.

  6.  Q905 Chairman (requested) "a route map or an explanation of the qualitative difference between the way in which Scotland responds to you and Wales responds to you? How does actually the Scottish Executive and the HEFCW equivalent in Scotland relate to you and its respective bodies: and how do the Welsh bodies relate? Is there a significant difference?"

  7.  Table 2 maps the ways in which the Research Councils interact with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government, and Table 3 maps the ways in which the Research Councils interact with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Scottish Funding Council. The tables show that there are no significant differences in the ways Research Councils interact with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government, or their respective bodies.

Table 1

SPEND ON RESEARCH COUNCIL INSTITUTES IN WALES AND THE UK OVER FY2006-07


Spend (£M) over
FY2006-07

Total spend on institutes
in Wales

Total spend on institutes
in the UK
% Spend on institutes in Wales as a proportion of institute spend in the UK
BBSRC17.70132.20 5.8
MRC2No institutes in Wales 209.95N/A
NERC33.89198.84 2.0
STFC4No institutes in Wales 279.52N/A


1  Figures include Core Strategic Grant, other BBSRC funding and BBSRC Capital funding. Source: BBSRC Annual Report 2006-07. The total income of £17M to IGER quoted in the original submission refers to all income (excluding BBSRC Capital), not just BBSRC funding. IGER (as it was in 2006-07) is the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research—now IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, part of Aberystwyth University).
2  Figure covers 3 MRC Institutes and 27 UK-based Units.
3  UK figure includes 4 wholly-owned institutes and 15 part-funded collaborative centres.
4  STFC was formed in April 2007 following the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and the figure in this table is the sum of those for PPARC and CCLRC for 2006-07. The figure includes £267.025M for the Rutherford and Daresbury Laboratories which could equally be classified as facilities.



Table 2

RESEARCH COUNCIL INTERACTION WITH THE WELSH ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENT AND THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT


Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) Scottish Government
AHRCNo high level interactions. No high level interactions.
BBSRCBBSRC has a Memorandum of Understanding with WAG, and in line with this holds annual meetings of senior staff to discuss research priorities and other areas of mutual interest. BBSRC has a Concordat with the Scottish Government, under which meetings at senior level have been held to discuss policy and research matters of mutual interest. Historically, BBSRC had specific working relationships with the former SEERAD with respect to the management of research institutes inherited from the UK Agricultural and Food Research Service, which included the Scottish Agricultural and Biological Research Institutes and the Research Institutes sponsored by the BBSRC. Discussions on these matters are still held as required.
EPSRCFormal Memorandum of Understanding with annual Concordat meetings involving WAG, HEFCWandEPRSC;
Agent for EPSRC Industrial CASE scheme1
Co-sponsor with EPSRC in TSB's Knowledge

Transfer Partnerships.2
No high level agreements;
Agent for EPSRC Industrial CASE scheme1; Co-sponsor with EPSRC in TSB's Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.2
ESRCConcordat agreement with WAG. As part of this there is annual meeting at which common issues, areas for future collaboration and emerging priorities are discussed. Concordat agreement with Scottish Government: As part of this there is annual meeting at which common issues, areas for future collaboration and emerging priorities are discussed.
MRCAnnual meetings to be arranged at CEO and CMO level.
Regular meetings and discussion of funding opportunities with WORD senior staff.
Annual meetings between CEO (MRC) and CSO and CMO.
Regular meetings and discussion between senior office staff and CSO staff.
NERCNERC has an annual high (director) level meeting with WAG, which is also attended by representatives from the Environment Agency Wales and HEFCW. Havard Prosser (WAG Chief Environmental Science Adviser) always attends and at the most recent meeting (May 2008) the WAG Head of Skills Policy, Employability and Knowledge Transfer and the WAG Head of Science, Innovation and Enterprise Policy also attended. NERC and the Scottish Government generally meet annually at a strategic level, though the last one was in 2006. Two of the Scottish Government's agencies—the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)—also usually attend. Until being disbanded in 2007, NERC had observer status on the Scottish Government's Strategic Science Advisory Committee (SSAC).
STFCMemorandum of Understanding with WAG with bi-annual meetings between WAG and Senior STFC Management (also attended by HEFCW). Meetings as required with the Scottish Government.


1  The RDA, Scottish Enterprise and WAG allocate a small number of Industrial Case Students on EPSRC's behalf.
2  EPSRC, along with WAG and the Scottish Government and other Research Councils are among the 17 sponsors in the Technology Strategy Board's Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme.


Table 3

RESEARCH COUNCIL INTERACTION WITH THE HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING COUNCIL FOR WALES AND THE SCOTTISH FUNDING COUNCIL


HEFCW SFC
AHRCNo high level interactions. No high level interactions.
BBSRCCovered by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Welsh Assembly Government. No formal arrangements in place, but regular contact is maintained informally through meetings and correspondence.
EPSRCPartner with EPSRC in its Science and Innovation Awards.1 Partner with EPSRC in its Science and Innovation Awards.1
ESRCHEFCW attends the concordat meeting between the ESRC and the Welsh Assembly Government. Representative of SFC attends the concordat meeting between the ESRC and the Scottish Government.
MRCWork periodically with HEFCW. Work periodically with SFC.
NERCThe Chief Executive of HEFCW, Professor Philip Gummett, attends the annual NERC/WAG meeting, with one or two colleagues. No direct interaction, although SFC (David Gani) had observer status on the Scottish Government's Strategic Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) until it was disbanded in 2007.
STFCCovered by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Welsh Assembly Government. Meetings and other contact with the SFC as required as well as broader involvement through Scottish University Physics Alliance (SUPA) on a regular basis at different levels within the STFC.


1  Science and Innovation Awards were introduced by EPSRC in 2005 to support strategic areas of research that are particularly at risk.





 
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