Spending Review 2010 - HC 618Written evidence submitted by GuildHE (SR 18)

GuildHE and CREST welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the Science and Technology Committee and we consider the inquiry both timely and appropriate.

GuildHE’s major concerns about the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010 centre on how cuts to research funding disproportionately affecting the small and specialist sector negatively influence sustainable long-term growth in UK Higher Education and the national economy. Our concerns are based on the following arguments:

1.The scale of research activity in Higher Education institutions is now favoured over its quality.

2.Innovation in specialist areas key to economic growth and vital to regional development is threatened by concentration.

3.Quality research and teaching are vital to producing high-level graduates.

4.The international reputation of the specialist sector should be leveraged to its full potential.

5.The general instability in the Higher Education sector in the wake of the CSR needs to be considered with an eye to unintended consequences.

1. Scale

Increasingly it is recognised that small research clusters, as opposed to large companies and organisations, have the greater potential to innovate and support economic systems, resulting in new or offshoot local, regional and national industries. Introducing thresholds, cutting relatively small, stragic funding for projects and researchers, and concentrating public resources even further on large institutions ignores the complexity of the research and innovation chain, and will curtail the development of and the access to research vital for UK growth in the short and long term.

In a recent interview, Lord Willis of Knaresborough expressed concern about the 45% cut to the research capital budget. He went on to state that the UK could “probably sustain ‘no more than 30’ universities with capacity to attract the best global researchers and carry out world-class research”. He suggested that the others should “merge with neighbouring colleges of FE to create US-style liberal arts and comunitiy colleges to deliver the high-quality skills training the UK is ‘dying for’.” While this may represent an extreme position, we are concerned that the need to curtail spending by increasing concentration of research funds is a foregone conclusion in government. Although at the Science and Technology Committee’s Oral Evidence session on 19 January 2011, Chief Executives from the Research Councils pointed out that the majority of research funding is already concentrated in this manner, the thinking expressed in Lord Willis’s interview, and implicitly supported by sector trends, exemplified by the ESRC’s approach to creating Doctoral Training Centres, runs counter to the system targeting the very skills gap he correctly identifies as central to UK economic growth.

The decision to concentrate funding on 3 and 4* research is, to some extent, understandable. However, when this is coupled with thresholds premised on “critical mass”, as occurred in the case of HEFCW, unintended consequences can mean the removal of funding from small, skilled teams of researchers engaging directly with business and targeting particular economic growth areas. This is the case with Glyndwr University, which recently experienced a 100% cut to their HEFCW-administered QR budget despite the excellent internationally recognised work undertaken on behalf of the European Southern Observatory and at the Centre for Solar Energy Research, which is researching, in direct collaboration with local SMEs, ways to make the UK a leader in sustainable building practice and manufacturing. Glyndwr University, like many GuildHE members, also works in direct partnership with research-intensive universities, helping these institutions in particular with the difficult job of translating their “pure” research and “packaging” it for real-world use.

2. Innovation

Alterations to the method of allocation for the HEFCE administered Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) exemplify the potential damage disproportionately inflicted on small and specialist institutions by CSR 2010 thinking and cuts. The potential loss of funding due to the introduction of a threshold limiting access to HEIF 2011–15 means that translational research benefiting SMEs and regions will be curtailed in key economic sectors; including food security, health, education and the creative industries.The new allocation method moves money away from certain institutions—as well as localities and specialist sectors—in favour of others; it does not save money, or increase the value of national Knowledge Exchange programmes. A number of HEIs who will receive funding under the new threshold-governed allocation have achieved a lower rate of return on HEIF4 investment than smaller and specialist institutions who, with the proposed methodology and threshold, will not receive any funding at all in HEIF 2011–15. Hence, scale is preferenced over true performance.

The allocation threshold also has the potential to disproportionately affect economic growth in specific sectors and places. Many smaller and specialist institutions work in places and/or sectors where their interactions with business are unique and they may be the only source of such support and expertise. Many smaller towns and cities and their economic base are likely to lose out completely and given the focus of their institutions in certain areas of economic activity, the loss of funding is likely to be disproportionately damaging to local, regional and national growth.

Every penny of HEIF funding is valued by small and specialist institutions and their partners, and its loss has a disproportionate effect on the activity these HEIs are able to offer to local economies, just as its presence in recent years has represented real value-for-money investment. The new allocation method means that engagement with industry and communities will need to be scaled back during a period of austerity; the sharing of close-to-market, translational research with local and regional business will be jeopardised, with detrimental effects to communities as well as to their HEIs. This is exacerbated where either the specialisation of research and teaching activity and / or the lack of alternative HE providers means that an HEI losing HEIF is often the sole provider of incubation and investment.

A large amount of HEIF-funded activity has been focused on improving graduate employability, in particular providing incubation and support for graduate start-ups. With the loss of HEIF funding, these programmes will be discontinued. Students attending institutions that have performed well under previous HEIF rounds, and are now experiencing a total loss of funding due to the introduction of a threshold, will not have access to programmes that directly target the translation of HE skills and knowledge to the workforce. Again this further jeopardises and penalises activity in specialist sectors and in specific locations in England.

The effects of the threshold are further compounded by the availability of moderation funding only for those institutions continuing to receive HEIF funding. Small and specialist institutions will therefore receive no HEIF funding with no moderation of the effect. The capacity built up in past rounds (both staff and dedicated facilities) will be severely damaged by this decision. The percentage of income lost represented by the complete removal of HEIF is disproportionate amongst GuildHE HEIs, and frequently made worse because many of these institutions also fall below the threshold for moderation funding in HEFCE’s main recurrent grant, meaning that they are likely to be doubly penalised for their size and mission.

3. Teaching and Research

In policy and funding terms, research is increasingly valued only for its immediate ability to contribute directly to the UK economy, without consideration of its role in shaping inquisitive and discerning graduates capable of leading in an information age.

While contract research with companies like Pfizer has, of course, been vital to sustaining the UK science base, the work undertaken by researchers engaging in translation research with UK SMEs and regional business is no less vital to the national economy. Central to that system is the creation of a generation of skilled graduates capable of competing not only in the STEM subjects, but engaging in research and innovation that targets communication and behaviour—both central to the art, design, media, performing arts and humanities research and learning that contributes substantially to the “creative industries” the UK is internationally recognised for. This emphasis on critical thinking, enquiry, communication and engagement is also central to research undertaken in the land-based sector, which continually decries the UK’s lack of skilled graduates and postgraduates.

GuildHE institutions are nationally and internationally recognised for the quality of their teaching and their research in to education practice at all levels. Their research-active staff engage directly with with undergraduates and postgraduates, many from widening participation backgrounds, tapping in to the UK’s under-exploited human capital. Students learn about and work on cutting-edge research projects, they learn how to collaborate with business, and many (supported by public and private funds) go on to create graduate start-up companies, generating jobs as a direct result of their exposure to research innovations in small and specialist clusters.

As a result of the CSR 2010 and the requisite cuts and concentrations stemming from an overhaul to the UK HE system, small and specialist institutions are experiencing a substantial loss of support for both research and teaching. The long terms effect of these cuts will be a deskilled and less-diverse graduate population, detrimental both to the research base and the knowledge economy.

4. International Reputation

The introduction of thresholds and the concentration of resources on a small group of research-intensive institutions means that small and specialist HEIs will find it difficult to maintain and actively seek out mutually beneficial relationships with European and international partners. These potential collaborators are reluctant to enter in to partnerships, even in areas of vital international concern (for example, research into sustainability and food-security), if they feel that the UK government is not committed to its research base and is, however unintentionally, acting to undermine its quality and diversity.

This is compounded by problems created by UKBA reforms to student visas. International students want to undertake undergraduate and research degrees not only at large, research-intensive institutions; they come to GuildHE member institutions because of the particularly innovative, specialist work undertaken in an environment where teaching and research are treated holistically. Many return home to introduce innovations they have learned or developed in the UK to their own practices and economies. Other wish to stay on and work with partners in the UK to develop business and research ideas. This option is increasingly under threat as a result of government reforms, which could mean a further cut to research budgets across the sector.

5. Instability

GuildHE is concerned about a series of de facto cuts to research funding for small and specialist institutions, which rely on the strength and coherence of the HE ecosystem, and are facing multiple losses of research income at a time when the overall HE system is particularly unstable. The delay to the HE White Paper, coupled with cuts and reforms to the Departments for Education, Health, and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has result in a lack of joined-up thinking with respect to these institutions.

GuildHE member institutions have proved that they are some of the leanest, most efficient HEIs in the sector. They have also committed to innovative and sustainable methods for developing their collaborative and interdisciplinary research capacity, exemplified by the creation of the Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training.

Despite their performance, they are now threatened with disproportionately cuts to a variety of funding streams, despite claims by the government that, along with sustainability, growth, innovation and diversity are the stated ends of HE reforms. The research undertaken by GuildHE member institutions is central to the national growth story, and offers not an alternative to but a vital link in the chain connecting “pure” and “translation” research.

GuildHE urges this Committee to aid in its efforts to capitalise on the diversity and excellence of the UK research base, and to ensure that short-term thinking about cuts and concentration does not impede innovation and growth.

Declaration of interests

This response is submitted on behalf of GuildHE, one of the two formal representative bodies for Higher Education in the UK. It is a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Charity. It was founded in 1967 as the Standing Conference of Principals, registered as a company in 1992 and became GuildHE in 2006. GuildHE has 31 members/associate members. These include publicly funded higher education providers, a smaller number of private providers of higher education plus some further education colleges offering higher education programmes. For more information about members and activities, visit www.guildhe.ac.uk/

27 April 2011

Annex A

HEIF 4—WEIGHTED IMPACT OF FUNDING BY HEI (USING 1:2:7 MODEL HEFCE HAVE APPLIED TO HEIF5)—(TABLE 1)*

Table shows income generated as a multiple of funding received (weighted using the criteria applied in HEIF5)

Institution

Total FundingReceived duringHEIF4

Total HEIF 4 IncomeGenerated(weighted)

Ratio

HEIF 5 IndicativeAllocationAnnually (£)

1

University of Oxford

£5,381,382

£134,202,900

24.9

£2,850,000

2

Imperial College London

£5,381,382

£105,009,900

19.5

£2,850,000

3

University College London

£5,381,382

£84,872,000

15.8

£2,850,000

4

University of Manchester

£5,381,382

£80,873,100

15.0

£2,850,000

5

University of Hertfordshire

£4,953,973

£67,028,800

13.5

£2,850,000

6

University of Southampton

£5,379,409

£62,359,800

11.6

£2,850,000

7

University of Leeds

£5,381,382

£61,969,600

11.5

£2,850,000

8

King’s College London

£5,381,382

£57,392,100

10.7

£2,850,000

9

University of Liverpool

£4,950,052

£52,321,600

10.6

£2,850,000

10

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

£5,255,769

£54,333,600

10.3

£2,850,000

11

University of Cambridge

£5,329,790

£54,514,300

10.2

£2,850,000

12

Institute of Education

£1,716,727

£16,919,700

9.9

£1,021,022

13

University of Birmingham

£5,381,382

£51,345,400

9.5

£2,850,000

14

Cranfield University

£5,381,382

£44,051,000

8.2

£2,850,000

15

University of Warwick

£5,122,830

£39,421,800

7.7

£2,850,000

16

University of Bristol

£5,276,636

£39,600,600

7.5

£2,850,000

17

London School of Economics and Political Science

£2,837,332

£21,082,700

7.4

£1,687,500

18

University of York

£5,127,482

£37,784,400

7.4

£2,850,000

19

Queen Mary, University of London

£5,013,825

£35,287,400

7.0

£2,850,000

20

University of Sheffield

£5,381,382

£36,577,000

6.8

£2,850,000

21

Institute of Cancer Research

£1,182,221

£7,324,700

6.2

£703,125

22

University of Surrey

£5,262,097

£32,174,000

6.1

£2,850,000

23

London Business School

£4,797,056

£28,591,000

6.0

£2,850,000

24

University of Nottingham

£5,240,544

£30,803,000

5.9

£2,850,000

25

Anglia Ruskin University

£2,908,111

£15,379,700

5.3

£1,729,596

26

University of Durham

£4,882,706

£25,464,500

5.2

£2,850,000

27

Coventry University

£4,894,131

£24,724,300

5.1

£2,850,000

28

University of Central Lancashire

£3,802,809

£18,353,500

4.8

£2,261,717

29

University of Leicester

£3,226,520

£13,919,700

4.3

£1,918,970

30

University of Hull

£3,357,996

£13,362,000

4.0

£1,961,504

31

University of Exeter

£4,855,660

£18,333,800

3.8

£2,685,923

32

University of Northampton

£2,224,733

£8,137,900

3.7

£1,192,212

33

University of Wolverhampton

£3,948,198

£14,246,200

3.6

£2,087,085

34

Royal Veterinary College

£2,343,481

£8,147,200

3.5

£1,193,574

35

University of the Arts London

£5,177,267

£17,198,700

3.3

£2,519,630

36

Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln

£300,000

£991,800

3.3

£−

37

Guildhall School of Music & Drama

£630,518

£2,084,400

3.3

£305,367

38

University of Sussex

£3,873,313

£12,693,700

3.3

£1,859,642

39

Liverpool John Moores University

£4,326,890

£13,793,800

3.2

£1,941,434

40

University of Bath

£5,157,068

£16,219,000

3.1

£2,376,103

41

Buckinghamshire New University

£1,664,452

£5,164,700

3.1

£756,635

42

University of East Anglia

£3,911,297

£12,058,300

3.1

£1,766,555

43

Lancaster University

£4,903,453

£15,103,000

3.1

£2,212,607

44

University of Reading

£4,901,064

£14,820,100

3.0

£2,171,162

45

Liverpool Hope University

£1,566,562

£4,674,900

3.0

£684,878

46

Royal Northern College of Music

£607,878

£1,735,100

2.9

£254,194

47

University of Salford

£4,373,364

£12,200,600

2.8

£1,787,402

48

Southampton Solent University

£2,165,817

£5,984,400

2.8

£876,722

49

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

£969,881

£2,658,900

2.7

£389,532

50

University of Chichester

£736,344

£1,944,800

2.6

£284,915

51

Leeds Metropolitan University

£3,993,689

£10,247,000

2.6

£1,501,198

52

University of Greenwich

£4,728,886

£11,808,100

2.5

£1,729,901

53

Loughborough University

£4,512,666

£11,165,600

2.5

£1,635,774

54

Staffordshire University

£3,360,600

£8,206,000

2.4

£1,202,189

55

Goldsmiths College, University of London

£945,777

£2,260,400

2.4

£331,151

56

Royal Agricultural College

£436,138

£1,040,300

2.4

£−

57

Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

£630,518

£1,492,900

2.4

£−

58

Aston University

£4,905,063

£11,537,300

2.4

£1,690,228

59

City University, London

£5,007,524

£11,430,400

2.3

£1,674,567

60

University of Westminster

£3,797,295

£8,534,500

2.2

£1,250,314

61

London Metropolitan University

£4,728,886

£10,561,500

2.2

£1,547,272

62

Oxford Brookes University

£5,046,573

£11,178,500

2.2

£1,637,663

63

University of Plymouth

£4,643,987

£10,270,600

2.2

£1,504,655

64

School of Oriental and African Studies

£1,484,776

£3,243,800

2.2

£475,221

65

University of Teesside

£4,017,378

£8,693,800

2.2

£1,273,652

66

Canterbury Christ Church University

£2,837,332

£5,995,700

2.1

£878,377

67

Royal College of Music

£651,775

£1,376,900

2.1

£−

68

University College Falmouth

£969,399

£1,934,700

2.0

£283,436

69

University of Huddersfield

£3,219,364

£6,365,500

2.0

£923,553

70

Manchester Metropolitan University

£4,774,160

£9,436,400

2.0

£1,382,444

71

St George’s Hospital Medical School

£3,233,448

£6,380,800

2.0

£934,795

72

Royal College of Art

£1,064,176

£2,053,300

1.9

£300,811

73

University of Chester

£1,559,375

£2,984,800

1.9

£437,277

74

University of the West of England, Bristol

£4,255,997

£8,065,900

1.9

£1,181,664

75

University of Bolton

£1,145,961

£2,087,400

1.8

£305,807

76

Bournemouth University

£2,445,585

£4,377,100

1.8

£641,250

77

University of Northumbria at Newcastle

£4,850,724

£8,538,600

1.8

£1,250,915

78

Birmingham City University

£5,030,808

£8,829,300

1.8

£1,293,503

79

Royal Academy of Music

£565,276

£981,600

1.7

£−

80

Sheffield Hallam University

£4,809,063

£8,261,600

1.7

£1,210,334

81

Roehampton University

£1,929,386

£3,148,100

1.6

£461,200

82

University of Sunderland

£4,347,508

£7,057,200

1.6

£1,033,888

83

University of Bradford

£4,581,729

£7,397,200

1.6

£1,083,699

84

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

£378,409

£593,500

1.6

£−

85

Arts Institute at Bournemouth

£577,342

£905,500

1.6

£−

86

University of Gloucestershire

£1,461,550

£2,288,300

1.6

£335,239

87

Central School of Speech and Drama

£441,552

£689,000

1.6

£−

88

Keele University

£3,339,514

£5,101,400

1.5

£747,361

89

Brunel University

£5,053,104

£7,675,500

1.5

£1,124,470

90

School of Pharmacy

£864,807

£1,296,200

1.5

£−

91

University of Winchester

£760,695

£1,140,000

1.5

£−

92

University of Brighton

£4,731,228

£7,053,800

1.5

£1,033,390

93

University of Worcester

£1,063,245

£1,550,000

1.5

£−

94

University College Birmingham

£746,087

£1,048,800

1.4

£−

95

De Montfort University

£4,987,743

£6,993,300

1.4

£1,024,527

96

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

£990,910

£1,376,100

1.4

£−

97

Nottingham Trent University

£4,193,450

£5,779,000

1.4

£846,630

98

University of Essex

£3,686,056

£5,058,300

1.4

£741,047

99

Middlesex University

£2,837,332

£3,784,800

1.3

£562,500

100

University of Portsmouth

£3,929,782

£5,122,600

1.3

£773,116

101

York St John University

£790,314

£999,200

1.3

£−

102

Open University

£5,082,868

£6,286,000

1.2

£950,000

103

London South Bank University

£4,233,414

£4,938,100

1.2

£807,516

104

St Mary’s University College

£709,066

£824,900

1.2

£−

105

University of Kent

£4,532,826

£5,252,400

1.2

£897,455

106

Harper Adams University College

£1,471,111

£1,619,400

1.1

£−

107

Kingston University

£4,755,123

£4,546,700

1.0

£911,055

108

Royal Holloway, University of London

£2,981,689

£2,823,900

0.9

£484,978

109

University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone

£1,223,227

£1,098,400

0.9

£−

110

University of Bedfordshire

£2,518,730

£2,190,500

0.9

£484,056

111

Norwich School of Art & Design

£408,888

£342,700

0.8

£−

112

University of East London

£3,398,014

£2,841,200

0.8

£608,391

113

Birkbeck College

£3,242,102

£2,681,600

0.8

£640,793

114

Newman University College

£434,211

£339,300

0.8

£−

115

University of Derby

£3,709,566

£2,837,400

0.8

£674,476

116

University of Lincoln

£2,620,992

£1,975,100

0.8

£509,526

117

University College Plymouth St Mark & St John

£578,735

£399,300

0.7

£−

118

Leeds Trinity & All Saints

£537,398

£330,600

0.6

£−

119

Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication

£575,845

£353,200

0.6

£−

120

Courtauld Institute of Art

£300,000

£171,900

0.6

£−

121

Rose Bruford College

£300,000

£130,000

0.4

£−

122

Writtle College

£848,007

£303,500

0.4

£−

123

Bath Spa University

£883,904

£304,000

0.3

£−

124

University of Cumbria

£2,296,376

£704,200

0.3

£−

125

Heythrop College

£300,000

£91,500

0.3

£−

126

Edge Hill University

£1,281,828

£378,800

0.3

£−

127

Leeds College of Music

£300,000

£62,700

0.2

£−

128

University of London

£634,699

£37,400

0.1

£−

129

Thames Valley University

£2,746,380

£−

0.0

 

* Courtesy of Bishop Grosseteste University College

THE CONSORTIUM FOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE, SUPPORT & TRAINING

The CREST provides an innovative model for how to further research excellence and promote institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration. Taking as its premise the principle that quality researchers should be recognised and funded wherever they are found, regardless of the size of the institution, the Consortium builds on the “islands of research excellence” secured in the RAE 2008. The CREST plays a vital role in telling the story of these ongoing research achievements to the wider Higher Education community and to the general public. This activity is particularly timely and important given that the specialised, near-to-market, commercial and community-centred research pursued by CREST’s members is central to local, regional and national regeneration in the post-recession UK.

What Crest Does

As sustainability is vital, particularly in light of the Browne Review and the CSR, institutions have to make a distinctive offering; the kind of collaboration that CREST facilitates builds on existing strengths, and provides new opportunities for research-active staff and postgraduate research students to work together.

The CREST offers a virtual community (www.crest.ac.uk) for researchers and PGRs, including: networking software to promote communication; distance learning technology to facilitate the sharing of best-practice; and a repository to showcase research outputs. This allows members to interact and present research within an evolving forum that takes into account the logistical, time and financial constraints facing the modern researcher.

The CREST also:

brings together researchers and PGRs for interdisciplinary symposia, providing the opportunity to present specialist research to a diverse audience, in particular through the CREST Symposia (most recent: 13 & 14 December 2010);

supports exchange lectures and topical, interdisciplinary seminars;

organises skills training seminars for research-active staff and PGRs;

provides access to peer reviewers supporting grant applications and research proposals;

supports policy awareness and data curation in relation to REF, HEIF, ERA, RDAP, etc; and

acts as a repository and disseminator of information about UK, EU and international research policy and events relevant to its members.

CREST has received SDF pump-priming funding from HEFCE matched by phased subscriptions from its members. The Consortium is currently made up of a number of GuildHE members, but expects to expand its activities to include allied and partner institutions interested in concentrating and developing their research.

The current list of participating CREST members includes:

The CREST is run via a series of interactive working groups to ensure engagement with and investment from senior administration, research-active staff, PGRs and HE stakeholders.

For more information about the Consortium, visit www.crest.ac.uk or contact Dr Alisa Miller, CREST Research Network Coordinator, GuildHE.

Prepared 7th November 2011