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UCU fears over universities' ability to meet PM's demands on science

5 March 2009 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today expressed concerns that science's ability to aid the UK's path to economic recovery could be threatened by new funding arrangements for universities.

The union welcomed the news that the unit of funding per student will continue to be maintained in real terms and that quality research had been recognised and rewarded throughout UK universities, including those without a traditional research base. However, it expressed concerns that despite a noble commitment to continue to fund science subjects, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) had cut funding for number of research-intensive institutions, including Imperial College London, at a time when science is a national priority.

Imperial College - one of the world's leading science-based research institutions - will see a 5.1% reduction in its research funding for 2009/2010. Although HEFCE is providing funding to cushion the loss of money for research, this only lasts for one year.

'We do not sign up to the idea that we should put a cap on excellence in this country.'
Sally Hunt

Last week the prime minister said that 'the economic role of science will be of even more importance than before' and that rather than becoming a victim of the recession, science should be developed as a 'key element of our path to recovery'.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'While we welcome the growth in research funding for many post-92 higher education institutions, all our universities need to have proper funding so they can continue to produce world-class research. We need to ensure that all institutions that have delivered high-quality research are encouraged to grow. We do not sign up to the idea that we should put a cap on excellence in this country.

'Gordon Brown is right to earmark science as a key area, especially during the current recession. However, in order for science to play a key role in helping lift the UK out of recession, it has to be properly supported in our universities.'

Main HEFCE research grant losers 2009-10


Total research funding (including transitional funding) 2009-10 £

change 2008-9 to 2009-10 £

change 2008-9 to 2009-10 %

Imperial College London


- 4,941,734


University of Reading


- 4,085,198


University of the Arts London


- 3,096,117


University of Southampton


- 3,023,506


London School of Economics and Political Science


- 2,124,759


Institute of Cancer Research


- 2,051,347


University of Surrey


- 1,897,097


University of Essex


- 1,347,585


University of Sussex


- 1,152,530


London Business School


- 1,131,751


Institute of Education


- 952,528


St George's Hospital Medical School


- 857,912


University of Salford


- 816,174


Royal Holloway, University of London


- 769,720


King's College London


- 555,969


Royal College of Art


- 487,511


Aston University


- 443,250


School of Oriental and African Studies


- 411,689


University of Bath


- 399,985


Courtauld Institute of Art


- 371,418


Buckinghamshire New University


- 317,166


Keele University


- 209,656


Goldsmiths College, University of London


- 178,893