University Alliance respond to Policy Exchange report on area of 'crucial economic importance'

In response to the Policy Exchange report ‘Innovation and Industry: the role of universities’ Libby Aston, Director of University Alliance, said:

“University Alliance welcomes this report as a helpful contribution to an area of crucial economic importance.

“Alliance universities are leading the way for business engagement and innovative research that impacts directly on the economy. These universities have a strong expertise in utililising peaks of world-leading research and building effective partnership with business. It is the universities that know best how to develop these relationships and so we agree that Government support should focus on removing potential barriers. We strongly support the recommendation that the Government should aim to increase the number and scope of the highly successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

“We fully support the focus on maintaining a world class research base and that concentration of research funding, based on excellence, must continue but we disagree that this requires an explicit policy to return to 2001 funding outcomes. It is a principle of selectively funding research, based on excellence, that has driven the improvement in the UK research base and will continue to do so – not an explicit policy to concentrate research in particular institutions or to an arbitrary, historic level. The minor changes in 2009-10 funding were a result of RAE 2008 findings that showed excellence was more widely distributed than previously thought (1). It is only in maintaining a meritocratic system that we can continue to drive up the efficiency and quality of UK research.

“Last week’s HEPI report about the distinctiveness of Oxford and Cambridge revealed that the research performance of the Russell Group excluding the ‘golden triangle’ institutions is ‘in fact lower than for the sector as a whole’ (2). This gives further weight to the argument that research funding must continue to be distributed on excellence alone. The HEPI report provides further evidence that concentration of research funding in a small number of institutions would not benefit the UK research base. It is essential that we continue to support excellence in research, wherever it exists.(3)”


Notes for Editors

(1) The UK has one of the most highly selective research funding methods in the world – QR funding in 2009-10, based on RAE 2008, has not changed that:

(2) See Paragraphs 43, 44 and Figures 19 and 20 in the HEPI report ‘Oxford and Cambridge: how are they different?’

(3) The Alliance position on research concentration is available to download here.

About University Alliance

Established in 2006, University Alliance represents 22 universities at the heart of the sector that are both research-engaged and business-focussed. Alliance universities are actively engaged in their economic and social environments with close links to the professions, new industries and a deep-rooted commitment to access through flexible provision. Alliance universities educate 26% of all UK students and have high graduate employment rates, offering a research-informed learning environment and equipping graduates for the 21st century.

Members of University Alliance

Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, University of Gloucestershire, University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact:

Communications Team, Oxford Brookes University on 01865 484454

Further reading