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Imperial to lose Third of Research Funding to support 'Mediocrity'

Jan 18 2009 23:27
Lawrence Weetman
Imperial College, along with other Russell Group Universities, face losing a large cut of the government's £1.5 billion of research funding under new plans to be announced later this Spring.
Money, money, money. Must be funny. In a rich man's world...

Former polytechnics are pretty good at research. That's the message coming from today's edition of The Times, which reports that the government are currently reviewing University spending based upon the results of December's Research Assessment Exercise.

The RAE rated many more universities' research as "World Leading" or "Internationally Excellent" than expected. If the government chooses to split the £1.5 billion budget based on how much of each university's research falls into these two categories - as suggested by Research Fortnight - the consultancy firm involved in the decision - then it could mean huge budget cuts for Russell Group Universities.

Countries such as China and the US do not have our squeamishness about supporting an academic elite.
Anna Fazackerley, Policy Exchange

Imperial College faces losing £15 million per year - around 30% of its current Government funding for research. Meanwhile, Oxford and Cambridge are expected to lose around £8.5 million of research funding each. Overall, it is estimated that the Russell Group would see a total cut of around £140 million.

The universities that will benefit the most are the former polytechnics, who have seen their research ratings rise dramatically. The biggest winners, according to Research Fortnight, are The University of Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton are expected to see an increase in funding from £138,000 to almost £2.4 million each year, in what The Times describes as the beginning of a "class war" between institutions.

If these people [in the Russell Group] are as good as they say they are, they will have no trouble finding the money elsewhere.
Les Ebdon, Imperial Alumnus and Chair of the Million+ group of former polytechnics

Supporters of the plans, due to be fully announced in March, say that spreading funding will allow more Universities to increase their level of quality research, increasing the amount of quality research being carried out in Britain. Wendy Piatt, executive director of the Russell Group, was more sceptical. She suggested that the plans would damage the quality of research carried out here, saying, "it is essential we bolster Britain?s critical mass of research excellence, rather than try to spread limited cash more thinly. These sentiments were supported by Anna Fazackerley of the think tank Policy Exchange who suggested that the spreading of government funding could lead to "mediocrity" amongst research carried out at British institutions.

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Discussion about “Imperial to lose Third of Research Funding to support 'Mediocrity'”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Who   
Jan 19 2009 09:04

Les Ebdon is an absolute hobnob. By making statements like ?If these people [in the Russell Group] are as good as they say they are, they will have no trouble finding the money elsewhere? he is actively trying to deny students the experience that he gained from a Russell Group institution - and Imperial no less. The institution that will suffer the most from the plans he is supporting. The very mention of his name makes my blood boil.

Jan 19 2009 13:39

?15m of a total turnover of ?600m - 2.5%. Not a org-killing shortfall. It's about equal to the average surplus of the College for the last couple of years. Or, given there's 6,500 staff - get rid of 16 of them (on a crude measure) and stop doing the research the withdrawn money was funding.

Feb 02 2010 17:51

err mr parry i don't think you know what "turnover" actually means...

Feb 03 2010 11:51


Last time I looked turnover meant total recurrent income (sales in the commercial world) - for IC in 07-08 this was 603.1m. What do you think it means?

Feb 03 2010 18:55

Can somebody explain how ?15 million is 30% of government research funding when the College receives over ?90 million from HEFCE alone?

Jun 30 2010 21:15

Well arguably, Russell Group Unis have enjoyed this status of "we're brilliant we don't need to prove it" for a while now. But the real argument I think, though sadly I know it'll never happen, is why research is linked to funding. Undergrads, that make up the bulk of the univeristy body have almost no access it at all, only a few people ever do. Arguably they should link funding with academic acheivement and not research. If anything Imperial is the flaws of a Russell Group uni encapsulated, excellent research standards across the board, but comparatively poor teaching standards and student satisfaction ratings. If half of the research budgets actually went to improve quality of education and student satisfaction at the uni, we would probably be above Oxbridge. But like i said, it's not gonna happen. A sad reality.

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