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Lords to debate report on science research funding in universities

Monday 7 September 2020

This Wednesday 9 September, the House of Lords will debate the Science and Technology Committee's report on Science Research Funding in Universities, published on 8 August 2019.

The debate will take place from approximately 3.30 pm and will be available to watch on Parliament Live TV.

In its report, the Committee found that universities operate in a challenging funding ecosystem, using complex cross-subsidies to manage their finances, and identified several risks to universities’ science research funding.

The Committee found that the Augar Review of tuition fees did not take a holistic approach to the funding of universities and made no attempt to assess the potential impact of a reduction in fees on the funding of research. The Committee recommended that, if the Government is to follow any of the recommendations of the Augar Review relating to tuition fees, it must implement them as a full financial package, including increasing the teaching grant to cover the loss of tuition fees, to ensure that universities are no worse off than they are now.

The Committee expressed concerns about the Augar Review’s recommendation that the value of the teaching grant should be determined by the Office for Students, based on an assessment of the social and economic value of different subjects. The Committee recommended that determining the value of teaching grant awards requires clear metrics to assess the impact on the research base.

The Committee also found that Quality-Related (QR) funding had fallen by 12.8% in real terms since 2010, leading to a deficit which universities have plugged from other sources. The Committee recommended that the Government should address the deficit in QR funding and should commit to increasing QR funding at least in line with the rate of inflation.

The Committee also highlighted the importance of retaining the mobility of researchers so that the UK can continue to attract the best researchers and other scientific staff, and the need to match the level of science research funding received from the EU.

Speakers

  • Lord Patel, Chair of the Committee, will open the debate.
  • Lord Callanan will respond on behalf of the Government.

Other speakers are likely to include:

  • Lord Bilimoria
  • Baroness Walmsley
  • Baroness Deech

A full list of Members of the House of Lords who are due to speak in the debate can be viewed in the Speakers’ Lists.

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